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.

Report: Rockets lure assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik out of retirement with ‘significant raise’

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After a slow start, the Rockets got assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik to come out of retirement.

How?

The usual way employers attract someone to a job.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Fertitta was alarmed enough to personally recruit defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, who retired just before training camp, to return, offering what sources say was a significant raise that pushed his salary to a range that ranks among the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coaches.

Good for Bzdelik using his leverage. He looked like a defensive whiz last season, and Houston slipped without him. Of course, personnel matters, too. There’s no guarantee these Rockets – minus Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute – reach last year’s defensive level.

Bzdelik has been back around the team, but isn’t working full-time yet. It’ll take a while to assess his impact on Houston.

And good for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta paying up. Fertitta is still trying to determine the right amount for him to spend, but the team is better off if he’s willing to pay what’s necessary to attract the most desirable coaches.

Charles Barkley addresses Draymond Green-Kevin Durant dynamic (video)

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Want to hear an entertaining guy address an entertaining topic? Here you go.

Trae Young: I’ll be better than Luka Doncic

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Trae Young and Luka Doncic will be forever linked by their draft-night trade.

The Hawks took Doncic No. 3 then traded down with the Mavericks for No. 5 pick Young and a future first-round pick.

Young, via Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated:

“The thing with Luka,” Young says, “he’s a great player. I don’t understand why it can’t work out for both situations. I hear [Atlanta made a mistake] all the time. Luka’s a great dude, and I think he’s going to be a really good player. But at the same time, I’m going to be a better player. Just because of my ability to stretch the floor, get others involved, I think I’ll be better.”

Of course, Young was never going to say Doncic would be better than him. But Young didn’t have to address this so directly at all. By going out of his way to make such a bold statement, Young puts more pressure on himself.

So far, both Doncic and Young have impressed. I’ll still stick with Doncic, though. Enough to justify Dallas surrendering that extra first-round pick? That’s a far tougher call and the one the Hawks will be judged by.

Young doesn’t want that leniency, though. He’s aiming to be better than Doncic straight up and unafraid to say so publicly.

Markelle Fultz’s new free throw stroke is… different.

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Philadelphia’s Markelle Fultz is in his own head with his free throw stroke now. (And, likely much more than that, but we’ll stick with the free throws for now.)

Earlier this week Fultz double-clutched a free throw attempt and his stroke was a mess.

Each game that stroke seems to change and the latest one is… different. Very different.

As Vecenie notes, this is actually an improvement in terms of the release, but that doesn’t make it good. Fultz was 1-of-2 in his one trip to the stripe (as of this writing).

Still, I have never seen someone pass the ball back-and-forth between their hands as they go into their shooting motion like that. Very, very odd.