The Milwaukee Bucks have lost their leading scorer.
Monta Ellis has informed the Bucks he won't exercise his $11 million US option for the upcoming season, making him an unrestricted free agent July 1. The move Monday wasn't a total surprise, coming after Ellis rejected a two-year contract extension last fall.
There's a chance the Bucks could lose their second-leading scorer, too.
Brandon Jennings, who combined with Ellis to contribute almost 37 per cent of Milwaukee's points, is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Bucks have the right to match any offer for him. J.J. Redick, traded to Milwaukee from Orlando in February, also is a free agent.
"Obviously, with the three guys … you've got three pretty good ballplayers," new coach Larry Drew said earlier this month.
Ellis led the Bucks with 19.2 points and 37.5 minutes last season, his first full season in Milwaukee. He and Ekpe Udoh came to the Bucks from Golden State at the trade deadline in 2012 in exchange for the oft-injured Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson.
But the Bucks have known losing Ellis — or all of their guards — was a possibility, and already have begun to adapt.
Milwaukee has a pair of promising big men in Larry Sanders and John Henson, and Drew has indicated the two will be the cornerstone of his team. Sanders made huge strides in his third season, more than doubling his scoring average (9.8 points) and grabbing more rebounds (672) than he had in his first two years combined. Henson, a rookie, showed his potential with a monster game April 10 in Orlando, flirting with a triple-double with 25 rebounds, 17 points and seven blocks.
"These big guys are going to be big part of the future," Drew said earlier this month. "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."
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was the first to report Ellis' decision.