Monta Ellis can become a free agent on July 1 by opting out of his $11 million contract for the 2013-14 season with the Milwaukee Bucks. He will likely end up one of the more highly paid free agents on the market -- his contract should end up in the same range as that of Tyreke Evans. (Low eight figures per year.) Monta scores a lot of points, and teams quite appreciate scoring. (He only averaged 18.5 per game for Milwaukee this past season, breaking a three-year streak above 20.)
Evans would seem to be a better option than Ellis for the Kings due to age (Monta is 27, Tyreke is 23), cost, efficiency (Evans was heaps more efficient last season) and most importantly defense, as well as the fact that Sacramento can let the market decide Tyreke's value and simply match. (Ellis would be an unrestricted free agent. Evans is restricted so long as the Kings extend a qualifying offer, which comes with very little risk.) But you never know what summer will bring, so ... from Yahoo!'s ace Marc Spears.
The Sacramento Kings' decision to hire Michael Malone as their next head coach should improve their chances of signing guard Monta Ellis in free agency, a league source told Yahoo! Sports. [...] Ellis quickly gained a great deal of respect for Malone's basketball IQ and his ability to teach and relate to players.
We have a coach that at least one quasi-star player really wants to play for! Progress! (It's also worth noting that Ellis played -- and thrived -- under Keith Smart. So ... yeah, awkward.)
But seriously, I really hope the Kings decide to keep Evans and pursue Ellis only as a replacement for Marcus Thornton, should the team peddle Little Buckets. Ellis is a vastly better passer than Thornton, and is actually better than Evans in this regard.
(While we're talking about players who like Mike Malone, I'm not going to discuss Chris Paul's relationship with Malone until someone reports that it might actually be a factor in CP3's decision. To leave L.A., he'd be taking a somewhat smaller contract with one fewer season on it. If the Kings keep Evans at $10 million in starting salary, they'd need to waive John Salmons under the amnesty clause to come close to fitting CP3 at a max deal under the cap. They may have to make a trade to free up some additional cash, too; Jimmer Fredette for a pick might do it. But again, I'm not really entertaining the idea until someone reports CP3 is entertaining the idea. I cannot guarantee that a gin-induced fever dream won't lead to me fantasizing about CP3-Cousins-Evans, though.)