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AP source: Monta Ellis, Indiana Pacers agree to four-year deal

The Dallas Mavericks' Monta Ellis (11) runs past

The Dallas Mavericks' Monta Ellis (11) runs past the Houston Rockets' Trevor Ariza (1) as he celebrates a score during the first half of Game 3 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Friday, April 24, 2015, in Dallas. Credit: AP / Tony Gutierrez

The Indiana Pacers got the shooting guard they coveted.

Monta Ellis' family found the welcoming community it wanted -- and the 29-year-old got the $44 million he was chasing.

After hitting the trifecta Thursday by agreeing to a four-year deal that includes a player option for the final year, Ellis and the Pacers will now work together to bring Indiana that elusive NBA title. League rules prohibit the contract from being signed until July 9, but Ellis just couldn't wait that long to make a decision.

"Last evening they (Larry Bird and Ellis) had dinner," agent Jeff Fried said after confirming the contract terms. "Monta who is not a very animated young man, enjoyed it. He just felt the community, the culture of the team represented what he is about -- the person who gives it his all on the court."

The 6-foot-3 Ellis joins a team that already has two-time All-Stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert, combo guard George Hill who is coming off a career-best season and promising 19-year-old Myles Turner, Indiana's top draft pick last week.

Ellis also becomes a key cog in the Pacers transition from the plodding, half-court offense they used to make the Eastern Conference finals in 2013 and 2014 to the up-tempo style that is flourishing around the league.

"The first thing is going to be how hard it's going to be to play the way Larry wants us to play," assistant coach Dan Burke said after running practice with Indiana's summer league team. "You can't just say you're going to do it. It's hard."

Bird, the Pacers' president of basketball operations, has been adamant about making the switch since a season-ending loss left Indiana out of last season's playoffs.

And he's been making the moves to help push the process. Ellis' talent, passion and intensity should help.

"Larry spoke about a bit of an up tempo style and how Monta really would fit in perfectly with the players they have," Fried said. "Larry also spoke a lot about how he gets Monta, how he understands, he cares, he's passionate. Larry understands that type of athlete."

Almost from the moment Ellis opted out of his deal in Dallas, there was speculation he would land with Indiana.

Sacramento also made a run, offering Ellis $48 million. It's unclear whether the dysfunction exposed inside the Kings' organization before the draft played a factor in Ellis decision, but it certainly didn't help. Neither did California's high tax rate.

But Bird gave no hint a deal was imminent when he left Thursday's practice without taking questions.

Ellis averaged 18.9 points and 4.1 assists last season, his second with the Mavericks, but his defense has been questioned and he only shot 28.5 percent on 3-pointers last season.

Still, he adds scoring punch to a team that finished 24th in the league in points per game mostly without the injured George.

When Indiana opens the season this fall, it could have a dramatically different look.

Hill will likely log more minutes at point guard. Bird and coach Frank Vogel have already said Hibbert will play fewer minutes and there is speculation he still could be traded. Power forward David West opted out of his deal worth more than $12 million last week, and a healthier George could see part-time duty in West's old spot.

Ellis figured the Pacers were the right team at the right time and couldn't say no.

"We wanted to make sure he would be in a good situation for the relative long term in an environment that fit him well and a community that fit his family well," Fried said. "This just feels like the perfect home for him."

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