Originally posted on Rumors and Rants  |  Last updated 6/17/13

The 2013 NBA free agent class just got a little deeper, as guard Monta Ellis announced Monday that he will opt out of the final year of his contact with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks badly wanted Ellis to return, and offered him a three-year, $36 million extension that he declined. Ellis started all 82 games last season in Milwaukee, and he averaged 19.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. He also shot 41.6 percent from the field, which was his worst performance since his rookie season. Still, Ellis was Milwaukee’s top scorer and is likely going to draw significant interest on the open market. The 27-year-old was traded to Milwaukee by the Golden State Warriors on March 12, 2012. Ellis arrived with Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown in exchange for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. The Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers are likely to show interest in Ellis, but a move to the Lakers is unlikely because it would have to come via sign-and-trade. The Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves could also show some interest. The Suns, in particular, have a ton of salary cap room to fit Ellis in. This is a blow to the Bucks, who really wanted Ellis back with backcourt mate Brandon Jennings, who is a restricted free agent. Jennings is almost certain to return to Milwaukee, and now the Bucks must focus on the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft to find a replacement for Ellis. In advance of the draft, the Bucks already have worked out point guards Shane Larkin and Dennis Schroeder, and shooting guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glen Rice Jr. and Ricky Ledo.

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