I’ve seen several trade thread ideas where Monta Ellis ends up with the Bulls, there’s Aggrey Sam’s column suggesting we send out Joakim Noah, or there’s this the Golden State Sam Smith suggesting we send out Luol Deng for him.
Both these ideas are horrifically stupid.
Let’s examine Ellis’s fit with the Bulls
He’s a small guard, so you need deal with playing with a smaller backcourt. When you have enough talent, that’s not so bad though, and Ellis is certainly talented.
He’s not a good shooter. This year’s 36% is his career best from beyond the three point line, and Golden State’s open style of offense has historically helped raise their players three point percentages a bit.
However, I don’t trust Ellis to consistent improve the Bulls attack from beyond the arc. It would be similar to adding another Deng level there point shooter to the team. It wouldn’t be terrible, but it wouldn’t make anyone fear us.
Golden State wants to trade him because he can’t play with Stephen Curry. Curry’s game naturally fits along side Ellis’s much more so than Rose’s does. Curry can play off the ball with his shooting and will likely never be as ball dominating as Derrick Rose.
Ellis, similar to Rose, is largely an on the ball player with great quickness who attacks the rim, draw fouls, and only shoots if he can’t find a seem to the basket. He’s worse in terms of PG skills and a worse defender (IMO), but he’s basically a small A guard (by A guard, I mean a guard who looks to score when he has the ball).
Overall, if we ignore what we give up in trade for a moment, Monta Ellis would solve our need for a secondary ball handler, secondary player who can take guys off the dribble, and attack the rim. He could generate free throw attempts and score consistently.
However, he’d cause us to struggle to match up defensively, wouldn’t improve floor spacing, and we would likely be unable to fully utilize his skills next to Derrick Rose. His overall talent would improve the team, but we’d find it difficult to live up to the sum of our parts with Ellis/Rose being two of the parts because their games overlap too much.
So what do you give up for a guy like Ellis?
Similar to my idea about Ben Gordon, the Bulls should be looking to add talent. If you bring on Ellis by subtracting a major talent, then you’re not improving the team, because Ellis isn’t likely to live up to his full potential here.
That isn’t always bad, LeBron and Wade can’t live up to their full individual potential next to each other either, but it’s likely to end with championships anyway. However, it is bad if you’re giving up a major piece to get him.
If the Bulls can land Ellis through a combination of picks, expirings, and non guaranteeds then they should go for it. Ellis isn’t a perfect fit, but his overall talent upgrade would greatly improve the team if it doesn’t come at a cost of significant talent from the roster.
The problem with that is Ellis is too valuable for Golden State to trade for such things. Some other team will likely simply offer more. I’d give up Korver + Bogans + Lucas + Pargo + our 2 #1s for Ellis, but I’m not sure that deal appeals to Golden State.
The Bulls can’t be thinking about trading laterally
To win it all, the Bulls can’t make a lateral trade and hope to get there.
When two teams trade, these are the following things that are at play.
1: Long term talent / potential
2: Short term talent
3: Long term salary savings
4: Short term salary savings
The Bulls need to add to categories one or two by giving up categories three or four. That’s how the Bulls can win a title. They need to add talent. Their existing talent fits together about as well as any talent will, so trying to trade equivalent talent from one player to the next is unable to get the job done.