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NBA Free Agency: Monta Ellis could become a target for the Celtics

Ellis could be a fit for a Celtics team in need of more scoring.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Once the free agency period begins, the Boston Celtics will be competing with a number of teams flush with cap space for the privilege of signing the most coveted players on the market. One of their biggest competitors will undoubtedly be the Dallas Mavericks, who have been linked to several prominent names that the Celtics also have interest in.

There's a lot like about Dallas if you are a free agent. They have a passionate owner willing to spend money, a culture of winning built around a future Hall of Fame forward and they reside in a good market. Plus, the lack of state income tax in Texas means more of the dollars that they earn on their contract remain in their pocket.

This could give the Mavs a leg up in the competition for the elite free agents, but Dallas signing one of the marquee stars on the market could open up the opportunity for Boston to steal one of their players away.

Monta Ellis has an $8.7 million player option for 2015-16, but could be seeking a multi-year deal coming off of a strong season. Should he decline the option to test free agency,'s Tim MacMahon speculates that the team will not offer him a new deal, stating that Ellis isn't a part of the Mavs' Plan A or 1A.

"If the Mavs sign LaMarcus Aldridge, their next top priority will be keeping Tyson Chandler. That would eat up the vast majority, if not all, of their remaining cap space, forcing the Mavs to fill their starting backcourt for next season in a thrifty fashion.

"If the Mavs sign DeAndre Jordan, they'd attempt to fill Ellis' spot in the starting lineup with a bigger, better defender with the perimeter shooting ability to space the floor offensively."

Ellis led the Mavs in scoring this season, averaging 18.9 points per game on a respectable 44.5 percent shooting from the field. He is a dynamic scoring threat off the dribble, capable of creating his own shot while carrying a heavy offensive burden. Boston has several needs to fill this summer, but that certainly sounds like Ellis could solve one of them.

Danny Ainge discussed in his end of the season press conference the need to find players with a knack for scoring late in games. Well, Ellis provides that as well, ranking 15th in the league with 5.3 points in the 4th quarter this season.

Ellis brings a lot to the table that could help this team, but he's not without his flaws. He's a fantastic scorer, but a bit one-dimensional and doesn't space the floor enough as a shooter (career 31.4 3P%). He's a bit undersized for the two-guard spot at 6'3'' and he struggles defensively. The Celtics could hide his weaknesses by pairing him with the defensive-minded Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley in the backcourt, but they could struggle if Ellis was sharing the court with Isaiah Thomas.

It's no secret that Ellis' personality has been called into question throughout his career. MacMahon cited sources that claimed Ellis' moodiness and selfishness negatively impacted the team chemistry last season, which may explain why the Mavs are willing to let him walk away. That's a factor that any team needs to weigh when considering signing Ellis, particularly a team like the Celtics that has a young, impressionable roster.

Ellis also turns 30 before next season, which means a four-year deal could take him into the decline phase of his career. On the plus side, any decline in performance as he ages would also coincide with a rising salary cap, so Ellis wouldn't necessarily lose his value as long as his decline isn't steep.

The Celtics' plan this summer is to upgrade the talent on the roster and there is no question that Ellis has that kind of talent. He may not be a perfect fit for this roster, but the Celtics have plenty of flexibility to make trades in order to even out the roster, allowing Ainge to worry about how the pieces fit later.

Ellis won't be the top priority for the Celtics if he hits the free agent market, but if other teams like Dallas take their top options off the table, Boston could swoop in with an offer for a scorer like Ellis. We know the Celtics will be seeking to make a significant move this summer and Ellis could be an option - even if he's not their best option.

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