The Indiana Pacers have been one of the worst offensive teams for the past several years. On Thursday afternoon, Larry Bird and co. took a positive step toward making sure that is a thing of the past.
Per reports, former Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Monta Ellis has agreed to terms on a four-year deal worth roughly $44 million. The deal reportedly has a player option for the fourth year.
Ellis is a potential bargain buy for an anemic Indiana offense that struggled even when star forward Paul George was healthy. In a bit of a transition, the Pacers appear to be moving away from their bigs (David West and Roy Hibbert) and attempting to work toward a faster, more up-tempo offense. Landing Ellis is a terrific start, and the former Mavs star should slide into the starting lineup as the top shooting guard.
Ellis averaging over 18 points per game in each of his two seasons in Dallas, but his 2014-15 numbers were even more impressive due to a fairly crowded Mavericks roster. Despite having to share the ball with the likes of Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki, Ellis still excelled as a key offensive piece.
Indiana will be hoping the 29-year old can do precisely that and more, as Ellis will be leaned on heavily to score the ball and possibly even lead the offense at times. A quality combo guard, Ellis is more than capable of directing an offense as a lead point guard, and could spell starting point guard George Hill at times. The addition of Ellis also helps Indiana from a depth perspective, as C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey (if re-signed) can operate comfortably from the bench. If all goes well, the Pacers would then have two offensive gunners off the bench and could have a more well-rounded offensive attack.
Ellis has never had any trouble getting to the rim and he has arguably some of the best mid-range game in the league, but the Pacers may have to wonder what they’ll get out of him as a perimeter shooter and defender. Ellis is not an elite three-point shooter, and though he has the athleticism to defend, has never consistently defended at a high level. Of course, with the Pacers coaching and Paul George helping out, that could change as more is asked out of Ellis.
For now, Pacers fans don’t have to worry about the negatives of adding Ellis, as his offensive talent far out-weighs any problem areas he may have. Indiana badly needed to get quicker and more explosive on offense and they did just that by bringing in Ellis. They can’t stop there, though, as Roy Hibbert no longer looks like a fit in their system and they’ll need to replace West in some manner. Considering the Pacers missed out on the NBA playoffs a year ago, they could still be a ways away from making it back. A healthy Paul George and Monta Ellis are a good first step, but Larry Bird and co. can’t be done yet.