Howard Beck wrote a great piece about Monta Ellis. “The Evolution of Monta Ellis: Mercurial Former ‘Chucker’ Is Thriving In Dallas” examines the ways Ellis has improved this season — his first as a Dallas Maverick — and includes quotes from coach Rick Carlisle, owner Mark Cuban, and the player himself, explaining the process by which Ellis is transforming his image from ballhogging loser to efficient winner.
I found one part of the story especially interesting. Beck described a meeting that took place between Ellis and Carlisle last summer, after he signed with Dallas. In it, Carlisle pulled no punches in explaining to Monta how he was perceived, why he was perceived that way, and how things would be different with the Mavericks.
Over eight NBA seasons, Ellis had assumed the aura of a prototypical gunner—his shot count high, his accuracy low, his judgment questionable, his conscience undetectable. Selfish. A bad teammate.
That was how fans had come to view Ellis, and that was the stinging image painted by Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle last summer, shortly after Ellis signed a three-year, $25 million free-agent contract.
“He gave me a rundown of what was said about me,” Ellis said in an interview with Bleacher Report last week. “Me being all about offense. Didn’t want to practice. Really wasn’t a vocal leader. Didn’t want to buy into systems.”
There was more.
“And then,” Ellis said, “he told me what he sees for me with this team.”
A partnership with Dirk Nowitzki
. A devastating two-man game. Open lanes to attack the basket. A cast of savvy veterans: Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Jose Calderon. The chance to be a playmaker. The chance to win, to change perceptions, to change habits. To evolve.
This year, through 28 games, Monta is playing smarter and scoring more efficiently than he has in years. He is the second leading scorer on a winning team. It seems likely, if not obvious, that Carlisle and environment he has helped create in Dallas deserves some credit for the improvement in Monta Ellis.
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Dirk N. and his hat will be squaring off tonight against the Wolves in Dallas
(Eds. Note: Andy G and Patrick J clearly don’t know what to do with themselves over a long weekend because they both wrote preview posts, unbeknownst to the other. Here’s part deux.)
The Timberwolves are in Dallas to take on Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks tonight at 7:30 CST. The Wolves have lost three straight. They’re now 8-9. After getting off to a quick 7-2 start, this the first time this season the Wolves have been under .500.
‘Sota needs a reversal of fortune in a bad way. And by “fortune,” I mean “effort and execution.” They showed neither in Wednesday night’s home loss against Denver, a point that Rick Adelman lamented repeatedly in his terse post-game presser. Referring to the loss on the Wolves’ home court, Adelman said, “the players can’t expect the fans to pump them up. That’s backward. (The players) need to get the fans going.”
(Eds. Note: When you hear a coach emphatically describe how his team wasn’t ready to play and didn’t give the effort you expect from a group of professional athletes–his group of professional athletes–you immediately see the stark difference between a coach who has absolutely no concern about his job security and the majority who aren’t so lucky to have the same leash.)
It was clear that after three straight losses, Adelman has lost any patience with which he began the season for the Wolves’ propensity for unforced errors, lackadaisical defense, and their failure to do basic things–like, say, blocking out opposing bigs (and Andre Miller) on the defensive boards–for painfully long stretches in winnable games.
Worse than that, Adelman clearly knows he doesn’t have a magic bullet to use now that he needs one.
The Wolves (6-8) take on the Milwaukee Bucks (7-6) tonight at 7:00 PM CST at Target Center.
Milwaukee started 6-2, and leads the Central Division. But the Bucks are fading, having lost four of its last five game. Having gone 1-6 in their last 7, the Wolves are a half game out of the cellar.
(In case you didn’t know, the West is way better than the East.)
Injuries are again the key story.
THE PAU GASOL IDEA
RUMINT has it that the Lakers would throw in Pau's Ed Hardy shirt for a conditional second-rounder, which Kahn demanded as a part of any trade
Patrick J: With all rumors swirling around Pau Gasol, the only thing for a hard-up blogger to do is fire up the good ol’ trade machine.
In this two-team trade, the Wolves’ lineup would look something like:
PG – Rubio
SG – Barea
SF – Webster
PF – Love/Randolph/Tolliver
C – Gasol/Pekovic
6th man: Pekovic
The Wolves end up with a Pau, Ricky, K-Love core. Barea and Webster are arguably upgrades over Johnson and Ridnour as starters at the 2 & 3. Pek is a matchup nightmare against opposing teams’ second units. We still have one high-upside enigma with Anthony Randolph. (One’s enough, right?)
n elephant in the room common sense question is whether the Wolves would be competitive in a Pau Sweepstakes.
John Hollinger’s (Insider) column suggests the answer may be no:
“It’s not hard coming up with dance partners, that’s for sure. Send him to Houston for Luis Scola,Goran Dragic, Marcus Morris and Chase Budinger, and the Lakers suddenly fill four rotation spots with one deal while saving several million on luxury tax; deal him to Indiana for David West,George Hill and Dahntay Jones and you accomplish a similar feat. These aren’t the only possibilities; one can build similar trades with several other teams, ones that don’t bring back a talent on Gasol’s level but plug so many gaps that it may be worth it anyway.”
Can a Williams/Beasley/Ridnour/Johnson package compete with Scola/Dragic/Morris/Budinger or West/Hill/Jones? We know the Rockets really want Gasol, and that’d be a pretty strong offer. What do you think?