By now, a majority of Milwaukee Bucks fans have heard the horrible news that shooting guard Monta Ellis has opted out of his $11 million player option for the 2013-14 NBA season. I say it is horrible news because Ellis was the team’s top scorer and playmaker. With that being said, the Bucks must move on and adapt to their new situation as quickly as possible.
The good news for fans in Milwaukee is that the organization knew there was a slim chance they were going to be able to hold on to Ellis. The fact is the 27-year-old is looking for a big contract, and more importantly, a team that can contend for a NBA Championship. Even though the Bucks could have given him the money he is seeking, they are still a couple years away from legitimately contending in the Eastern Conference.
Newly hired head coach Larry Drew is disappointed that Ellis will not be returning, but his focus is not on the shooting guard. What he is grateful for is the Bucks have several talented big men that the organization can build around for years to come. Center Larry Sanders, small forward Ersan Ilyasova and power forward John Henson are three players in particular that have bright futures in Milwaukee.
“These big guys are going to be big part of the future,” Drew said, according to USA Today Sports. “I think their development is going to be very important, but you can’t teach height, you can’t teach length. John and Larry Sanders, these guys are two guys that can really affect a game, and I’m very excited about the chance to work with both guys.”
Sanders had a breakout season in which he averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks (second in the NBA) per game. Henson’s performance against the Orlando Magic on April 10 had showed Bucks fans what exactly he is capable of accomplishing at the professional level. He recorded 17 points, 25 rebounds and seven blocks while shooting 41.2 percent from the field in 41 minutes.
Losing Ellis is certainly a big loss, but the good news is Milwaukee still has potential to be great.