Among the long list of potential free agent targets this off-season, it is difficult to find players that I would be completely opposed to seeing in Hawks uniforms. Most players, for the right price, can contribute something that would be of value to the club, whether in a bench or starting role, and under the Ferry/Budenholzer regime, there is a trust in the front office that hasn’t been seen in decades in this city. However, Monta Ellis is at the top of “that list” of players that I want nothing to do with for Atlanta.
Imagine my surprise when ESPN’s Marc Stein published a report late Saturday/early Sunday that the Hawks were “coveting” Ellis, and that Ellis is the “Hawks’ top current target. That begs the question of: why?!
Monta Ellis does exactly one thing “well” on a basketball court, and that is score. He has a career scoring average of 19.4 points per game in the NBA, and because of that, people assume that he is a productive/useful player. I am firmly against this thought process for a number of reasons, but chief among that list is his lack of efficiency. Ellis is a career 45.6% field goal shooter, which isn’t at all bad for a guard, but those numbers are skewed by his early-career numbers, and he has shot 43.3% and 41.6% from the field in the last two seasons. In addition, he is a miserable three-point shooter who insists on taking over 3 per game, and this fact was punctuated by 3.8 attempts per game at just over 28% in 2012-2013. Frankly, it is a wonder that he has produced a solid 16.8 PER in his career, and that’s a testament to his explosiveness.
If Hawks fans despised Josh Smith’s shot selection (and we did), Monta Ellis would fill that “void” nicely, and although it is tough to deny his pure talent, he is a maddening player. To go along with his offensive woes, Ellis is a tremendously bad defensive player. He is undersized at the 2-guard position at 6’3, and while he has good quickness at that spot, he’s a big-time gambler who is bad in team defensive situations while incapable of stopping the “average” NBA shooting guard.
I could go on for days about Ellis and his deficiencies, but the most important factor in opposition to him in a Hawks uniform is a fit concern. Ellis could be a useful player in many situations as a bench scorer (think Jamal Crawford-ish), but the Hawks already pay $5+ million per season for Lou Williams, and Williams is a more efficient version of Ellis. It could be debated as to who is the better player, but give me the efficient guy in Williams, and there is absolutely no case for duplicating that role by paying $8-10 million per season for Ellis, especially at the risk of losing Jeff Teague in the process.
There was another guy on “the list” that Marc Stein mentioned, and that is former Lakers and Sixers center Andrew Bynum. I’ve been on record in multiple places as saying that Bynum is my least favorite player in all of the NBA, but even that move would make more sense. Bynum is a tremendous on-court asset when he’s healthy (which he almost never is), and the Hawks could certainly use a legitimate 7-footer. All you need to know about Monta Ellis is that I would rather take the chance on Andrew Bynum than bring him in.
Run, Danny Ferry. Run in the other direction.