The Indiana Pacers went through some major changes in the offseason as the team fired head coach Frank Vogel and replaced him with Nate McMillan. Despite leading the team to a 45-37 regular season record, Vogel was let go by team president Larry Bird after the Pacers got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Toronto Raptors.
Bird then traded point guard George Hill to the Utah Jazz in a three-team deal with the Atlanta Hawks that brought Jeff Teague to the Pacers. Indiana then added Thaddeus Young via trade as well and signed free agent Al Jefferson.
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) December 14, 2016
In the process of restructuring the roster, Bird let players such as Jordan Hill, Ian Mahinmi, Solomon Hill, and Ty Lawson walk and the remake hasn’t had tremendous results. The Pacers currently sit at 15-15 and are 7.5 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Central Division. If the playoffs started today, Indiana would get the No. 6 seed and face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Even though the Pacers are technically a playoff team currently, Bird and the Pacers’ ownership expects more out of a team that has only missed the playoffs once in the last six seasons and reached the Eastern Conference Finals as recently as 2014.
It’s always difficult when a roster has such major overhaul as the Pacers did this past summer because most of these guys have never played together. Paul George, Monta Ellis, and Myles Turner are still trying to figure out how to incorporate Thaddeus Young and Jeff Teague into the starting lineup. All five guys have had to learn each others’ tendencies and where each guy likes to get the ball on the court.
The same goes for McMillan who is trying to figure out his rotations and what lineups play the best together on the court. He can’t figure that out without doing some trial-and-error on a nightly basis, and it’s made it difficult for Indiana to get a winning streak going. To this point, the Pacers have yet to win more than two games in a row this season.
One of the biggest glaring issues for the Pacers has been the inability of Teague and Ellis to play together at the same time. Ellis technically plays shooting guard, but he’s most effective with the ball in his hands. With Teague also being a ball-dominant point guard, it has made things difficult for the two to coexist.
“Monta Ellis doesn’t fit with the Pacers starters anymore” by @CStewartNBA… https://t.co/lZLESxG2O0
— 16 Wins A Ring (@16WinsARing) December 22, 2016
That’s why it makes perfect sense that the Pacers are looking to trade Ellis, according to Bleacher Report. It’s unclear what type of value the Pacers could get in return for the 31-year-old, but Steve Kyler from Basketball Insiders threw out the Orlando Magic as a potential landing spot for Monta.
The Magic are reportedly looking for one more scoring option as they look to make a postseason run in the second half of the season. Ellis would fit that bill, and he’s also familiar with Magic head coach Frank Vogel who Monta played under last season while with the Pacers.
Pacers fans got what they wanted: No Monta Ellis in the lineup. And for one night it looked good. https://t.co/DyZZSwfLXm
— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) December 13, 2016
Legion Hoops also mentions the Oklahoma City Thunder as a potential destination for Monta Ellis as the Thunder are looking for another scorer to take some of the pressure off of Russell Westbrook. Again, Ellis is most effective with the ball in his hands and Westbrook’s not going to defer to Monta too often.
As the 2017 NBA trade deadline approaches, keep an eye out for the Indiana Pacers’ Monta Ellis being moved elsewhere.
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]