Monta Ellis can become a free agent this summer if he exercises his early termination option by June 20, but apparently the Milwaukee Bucks don't want to see him go. The Bucks recently offered Ellis a two-year extension to his current contract worth a total of $36 million -- including his $11 million salary for next year -- that would have kept him under contract with the team until he turned 30, but no deal was reached, according to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Separate reports in October, April and May have all suggested that Ellis intends to opt out and test the free agent market in July, and the most recent rumors have linked him to Mike Malone and the Sacramento Kings. Ellis suffered through his least-efficient scoring season since his rookie year with the Warriors during a disappointing 38-44 campaign in Milwaukee last year. He and big man Larry Sanders got involved in a verbal altercation near the end of the season.
The news of Ellis declining a lucrative extension means we've officially crossed the rubicon from "Monta Ellis have it all" to "Monta Ellis looking for more than what the Bucks can offer to him". It's hard to think Milwaukee could raise its bid from here -- advanced statistical analysis suggests Ellis was already overpaid under his current deal -- but there have been rumblings that the team prefers Monta to restricted free agent Brandon Jennings. When the team hired Larry Drew as its new head coach, owner Herb Kohl insisted that the Bucks would not tank and wanted to be "really good" next year.
The prospect of assembling a playoff-caliber team for 2013-14 and beyond becomes more difficult if Ellis is unwilling to return. The only guard the Bucks have under contract for next season is backup point guard Ish Smith, and the extension offer to Monta suggests the team isn't as enamored with Jennings.
Milwaukee has been busy working out point guard prospects like Shane Larkin and Dennis Schröder in preparation for the 2013 NBA Draft on June 30, and at least they will know where things stand with Ellis before the draft arrives. As for where the Bucks are actually going, it's anyone's guess at this point.