The Indiana Pacers suffered some offensively last season without the offense of Paul George. The talented small forward, who was coming off his best season heading into the 2014-2015 season, suffered a horrific injury when he went crashing into the support under the basket during a scrimmage in Las Vegas for Team USA basketball. The result of the crash had George immediately in the hospital after suffering a gruesome leg injury. And even though he came back at the end of this past season, it was noticeable that he was not the same guy he once was just yet. While he was gone, guys like Rodney Stuckey picked up the slack for him. But even in doing that, there was just not enough consistent scoring with this team. And despite being able to defend, they were just not able to make it happen on the offensive end of the court. Well, the Pacers upper management paid attention to this need they had and began to search out the perfect guy to give them some offense. Monta Ellis was opting out of the final year of his deal with the Dallas Mavericks. He and the Mavericks were reportedly not on the same page anymore among other reasons as to why he was ready to leave. Ellis was taking a chance on himself. He knew he could get some money from some team, but he also wanted to see if he could get a competitive situation also. The Pacers presented that situation he needed and now both are reportedly joining forces. Indiana and Monta Ellis have reportedly agreed to a four year deal worth $44 million. The deal also includes an opt out clause for the final year of the deal. He steps right into a void for the Pacers and the Pacers satisfied him financially. But what does this pairing ultimately mean for the Pacers organization?
Monta Ellis has been a scorer for his entire career. Everywhere he has gone, he has produced on the offensive end. By getting him there, the pressure is off Paul George some heading into next season. George can now take his time building back up his game with a scorer to the level of Ellis in there. And the thing that is so amazing about this signing for the Pacers is that they have never really had a consistent secondary scorer alongside their lead scorers in the past few years. When Danny Granger was there, they had a crew of people that chipped in but were never consistent. And when Paul George broke out when Danny Granger was injured, Lance Stephenson was the guy that could make it happen most of the time, but he was not always consistent either. And with Roy Hibbert, who the Pacers are paying serious money to, he has not always played as big as he is at all times. The inconsistency offensively always ate at the Pacers and eventually cost them when it counted in the playoffs. Ellis solves that issue with the signing of his name on the dotted line. Now George has another option with him and maybe point guard George Hill can slide into the third scorer role for them. Another thing that would be good for the Pacers would be if Rodney Stuckey decided to stay. If he did, then you could bring in Stuckey as instant offense off the bench to keep the offensive continuity going.
Ellis brings a lot offensively with him to Indiana, but he unfortunately does not bring the same things on the defensive side of the court. For years people have talked about the defender that Ellis isn’t. He has always been that guy that is a small shooting guard or an average-sized point guard in different lineups. In Indiana, he will be the guy that is counted on to guard opposing shooting guards. Imagine him trying to guard a guy like Jimmy Butler from Chicago on a consistent basis (Chicago is in the Pacers’ division). Butler, standing at 6’7”, would take him in the post at will and shoot right over the top of him. And this is just one of the players at that position that could cause him issues. With George Hill as the starting point guard, he may be able to switch onto playing the opposing team’s point guard, but that will not help as much either because Ellis is not a solid defender. He is a gambler and when a gambler gets caught, he tends to get burned. Imagine him trying to gamble on Kyrie Irving, another player within Indiana’s division in the East. Kyrie would put him on skates almost routinely and there would be nothing Ellis could do about it. For as good as he is offensively, Ellis can be a liability defensively and that can lead to more points being given up than Indiana is used to.
Ellis and Indiana needed each other, but they may end up being at odds with each other in some instances as well. Ultimately, Ellis and his offense is needed and the Pacers will just have to figure out how to incorporate him in defensively so they can hide him a little bit. The more they are able to shade help his way and camouflage him on the defensive end, the more they can keep him out there. If not, then they will have to sit him more than they want due to the defensive issues. And more importantly, when the fourth quarter comes, they are going to need him out there on the court to score buckets with Paul George, bad defense or not. For better or worse, Ellis is a member of the Indiana Pacers and they are moving forward with some firepower that they sorely needed.