Report: Monta Ellis expected to turn down $11 million option, become free agent

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The Milwaukee Bucks could look like a very different team next season.

We’ve already told you how Brandon Jennings — frustrated he wasn’t picked to be in Houston this weekend for the All-Star Game — is a restricted free agent next summer and has a new agent known for getting his clients to big cities. Jennings denies that’s the plan, of course. The Bucks can match any offer other teams make for Jennings so he doesn’t want to burn that bridge.

Now comes a note from the Boston Globe that Monta Ellis may become a free agent as well, reports the Boston Globe.

Also, guard Monta Ellis has an $11 million player option that he is expected to reject to become a free agent this summer. Ellis, like Josh Smith, has been productive throughout his career but elicits different opinions about whether he can contribute to a championship-caliber team.

Golden State felt it had to choose between Ellis and Stephen Curry, and it went with Curry. Milwaukee may ultimately see it’s backcourt the same way.

Ellis is averaging 18.4 points a game but is shooting just 40.1 percent on the season,

If Ellis opts out — and while he might well make less money next season he could get the security of a multi-year deal worth more in total — it seems it would be more likely the Bucks would match any offer for Jennings. The team has already made it clear they are not moving Jennings before the trade deadline Thursday.

We’ll see how it all shakes out. But with coach Scott Skiles out as coach and likely player shakeups, it’s going to be an interesting time in Milwaukee this summer.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.