Dallas had been here before.
Another big fish, this time Dwight Howard, spurned them in free agency, and the Mavs were stuck trying to fill out their roster once again.
The consolation prize? An undersized, fast, high-scoring shooting guard named Monta Ellis.
We knew what the reputation was. Ellis was a moody volume-scorer and said this once:
"Monta Ellis have it all." Huh? What?
Ellis fell through the cracks during the 2013 free agency. Teams didn't want to pay his asking price because of his history. After the Mavs lost on Howard, Dallas signed Ellis at a lower rate in an attempt to fill out the roster...again.
But, for a year-and-a-half in Dallas, it was a perfect marriage. With Wesley Matthews struggling to regain consistent form in his first post-Achilles season, it's hard not to think about how well Ellis worked in Dallas. So as he prepares to make his first appearance in Dallas since he left last summer, let's look back on how good he was for this team and how fun he was too watch. If you're in the arena, give him an ovation. He deserves it.
Before we get to how it ended, let's discuss the good times. Like this!
And also this:
Ellis was a perfect sidekick to Dirk Nowitzki, and, for the first time ever, there were nights when Dirk slid to the No. 2 option behind Ellis.The great irony is that is exactly what the Mavs had in mind when they blew up the title team to chase stars in free agency.
In his first season in Dallas, Ellis averaged 19 points and nearly six assists while shooting percentages increased across the board. It sounds like a stretch, but the the Mavs had never seen a player like him come through town.
Think of all the people that had played major minutes at shooting guard for Dallas before Ellis: Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, DeShawn Stevenson, O.J. Mayo to name a few. None of those guys could do what Ellis does.
Ellis had the uncanny ability to get to the rim at will with his speed. The Mavericks have traditionally been a jump-shooting team built around Dirk, but NO ONE was able to bring what Ellis brought to the table. The increase in his shooting percentages was certainly a result of playing in Rick Carlisle's offense and playing alongside Dirk, but Ellis brought so much to the table.
Sadly, he hit a wall last season for a few different reason. When the Mavs traded for Rajon Rondo, the biggest concern was how he would fit with Ellis, who was leading Dallas in scoring. The experiment failed as Ellis tailed off quite alarmingly in the second half of last year.
But his stubbornness and moodiness played a part in his demise as well. Ellis played through a hip strain last February and refused to rest. He had a consecutive games streak going, but it was clear that Ellis was not himself physically during the second half of last season.
Ellis' moodiness late last season was reportedly part of why Dallas was ready to move on. He had a player option, but Dallas made it known that it would trade him should he opt-in. It was also reported that Ellis wasn't happy with the big contract Chandler Parsons received during the prior summer. Parsons, the guy Dallas wants to be their foundation piece for the future, and Ellis also weren't a great basketball fit. The writing was on the wall.
Don't get me wrong, moving on from Ellis was the right move and Matthews is better fit for what Dallas wants to do. But, Matthews is struggling and it remains to be seen if he can regain his true, consistent form.
But when Ellis left, I always felt like he'd be the player Dallas would miss the most. No one on this team can go get an easy bucket the way Ellis could, and it has shown in this four-game losing streak. Deron Williams has been a good crunch time scorer, but not in the way Ellis was as a true closer.
Ellis' numbers are down with the Pacers this year, but he's not being asked to do as much as he did in Dallas. He's getting older, but he still has the quickness to get to the rim and add another dimension to a team's offense. My ultimate dream was Ellis accepting a role off the bench. Imagine this team with Ellis coming off the bench instead of Devin Harris or J.J. Barea? But that's not Ellis' style.
Still, as Ellis returns to Dallas Saturday, remember the good times. After all, there was a point where Ellis said he wanted to retire a Maverick. He deserves the appreciation, because, as flawed as he was, he was really good here.
Have it all, Monta.