Southwest Notes: Ellis, Rockets, Leonard

Monta Ellis, who has a player option for the 2015/16 season, has “contract numbers for next year in his head” and he’s “very replaceable,” Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes in a chat. Ellis has seen a decline in points per game, assists per game and field goal percentage since the All-Star break. Still, he’s a proven scorer who can carry a team on any given night. If he opts out of the final season of his contract, his Early Bird rights allow the Mavericks to make an offer with a starting salary of up to $14.63MM. If Rajon Rondo flees via free agency, locking up Ellis would be a decent fallback plan. If the Mavs kept Rondo, Sefko adds he would be stunned if Ellis also wound up back with the team as well.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • A more experienced and mature roster seems to be making a difference for the Rockets as they head into the playoffs, Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle writes. In the offseason, the Rockets added Jason Terry and Trevor Ariza. Then, Corey Brewer, Josh Smith and Pablo Prigioni were each acquired during the season and have added strong work ethic and sound basketball knowledge, Creech notes.
  • Kawhi Leonard, who is set to be a restricted free agent this summer, continues to get overlooked as a star, but with him back in the lineup after the All-Star Break, the Spurs are playing very similar to the way they did last season, which, of course, bodes well for a deep playoff run, Ben Golliver of writes. San Antonio is 27-10 since Leonard returned from a hand injury in mid-January.

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