Media Day 2016: Coach McMillan Press Conference (Part One)

September 26, 2016 - Indiana Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan discusses his expectations for the team's upcoming season at Media Day on Monday.

Media Day 2016

Scroll Video up Scroll Video down Scroll Video left Scroll Video right

Media Day 2016: Coach McMillan Press Conference (Part One)

September 26, 2016 - Indiana Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan discusses his expectations for the team's upcoming season at Media Day on Monday.
Sep 26, 2016  |  14:46

Media Day 2016: Coach McMillan Press Conference (Part Two)

September 26, 2016 - Indiana Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan talks about the new players on the team, returning young players and his expectations for the upcoming season.
Sep 26, 2016  |  13:01

Media Day 2016: Paul George Press Conference

September 26, 2016: Pacers forward Paul George answered questions from the media ahead of the start of the 2016-17 season.
Sep 26, 2016  |  17:36

Media Day 2016: Myles Turner

September 26, 2016 - Pacers center Myles Turner speaks with Pacers.com's Pat Boylan about his offseason and his expectations for his second NBA season.
Sep 26, 2016  |  03:05

Media Day 2016: Thad Young

September 26, 2016 - New Pacers Forward Thaddeus Young sits down with Pacers.com's Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle to discuss the upcoming season.
Sep 26, 2016  |  07:07

Media Day 2016: Lavoy Allen

September 26, 2016 - Lavoy Allen sits down with Pacers.com's Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle to reflect back on his last two-and-a-half years with the Pacers and look ahead to the upcoming season.
Sep 26, 2016  |  03:41

Media Day 2016: Rodney Stuckey

September 26, 2016 - Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey talks with Pacers.com's Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle about being a veteran and his excitement about the new-look Pacers roster.
Sep 26, 2016  |  03:54

Media Day 2016: Paul George Joins Boylan and Boyle to Talk 2016-17

September 26, 2016 - Paul George sat down with Mark Boyle and Pat Boylan to talk about the state of the team entering the 2016-17 season. George discussed the group's chemistry and what he feels the expectations are.
Sep 26, 2016  |  06:14

Media Day 2016: Georges Niang

September 26, 2016 - Indiana Pacers rookie Georges Niang sits down with Pacers.com's Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle to discuss the upcoming season and how he feels playing four years in college has prepared him for the NBA.
Sep 26, 2016  |  03:56

Media Day 2016: Monta Ellis Talks About Feeling Fresh

September 26, 2016 - Monta Ellis sat down with Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle to talk about how a strong offseason has him feeling confident going into the season.
Sep 26, 2016  |  02:25

Media Day 2016: Aaron Brooks

September 26, 2016: Pacers point guard Aaron Brooks sat down with Pacers.com's Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle and discussed why he decided to join the team and his career up to this point.
Sep 26, 2016  |  04:46

Media Day 2016: Coach McMillan

September 26, 2016 - Indiana Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan discusses the team's versatility and why he believes they can match up with any team in the league.
Sep 26, 2016  |  06:44

Media Day 2016: Glenn Robinson III

September 26, 2016: Ahead of his second year as a member of the Pacers, Glenn Robinson III talked about what he worked on in the offseason and his goals for the upcoming year.
Sep 26, 2016  |  04:14

Media Day 2016: Kevin Seraphin

September 26, 2016: New Pacers player Kevin Seraphin met with Pacers.com's Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle and discussed how he came to Indiana and what he brings to the team.
Sep 26, 2016  |  04:20

Media Day 2016: Jeff Teague

September 26, 2016 - Indianapolis native Jeff Teague sits down with Pacers.com's Pat Boylan and Mark Boyle to discuss returning to his hometown and his expectations for this upcoming season.
Sep 26, 2016  |  05:01

Media Day 2016: Al Jefferson

September 26, 2016 - New Indiana Pacers Center Al Jefferson talks about the upcoming season and the team's efforts to build chemistry before the season begins.
Sep 26, 2016  |  04:18

Media Day 2016: Jeff Teague Meets with the Media

September 26, 2016: During his session with the media, new Pacers point guard Jeff Teague previewed training camp and the season and shared his excitement to return home to play for Indiana.
Sep 26, 2016  |  01:38

Media Day 2016: C.J. Miles Meets with the Media

September 26, 2016: During Media Day, Pacers forward C.J. Miles answered questions from the media.
Sep 26, 2016  |  02:29

Media Day 2016: Monta Ellis Meets with the Media

September 26, 2016: Pacers guard Monta Ellis met with the media and discussed his excitement for the upcoming year, as well as how he rededicated himself to basketball in the offseason.
Sep 26, 2016  |  03:23

Media Day 2016: Thaddeus Young Talks New Team

September 26, 2016 - New Pacers Forward Thaddeus Young talks about getting acclimated to Indianapolis, his role on the team and how different he believes this season's team will look compared to last season.
Sep 26, 2016  |  03:44

Media Day 2016: Aaron Brooks Talks New Season, New Start

September 26, 2016 - New Pacers Guard Aaron Brooks talks about his decision to come play for Indiana and what he's looking forward to most this season.
Sep 26, 2016  |  02:08

The Reinvention of Monta Ellis

Pacers Guard Returns with New Body, New Outlook
by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Monta Ellis turned 30 last Oct. 26, two days before his first season with the Pacers began with a game in Toronto. By the time the season ended with another game in Toronto, a Game 7 loss in the first round of the playoffs, he knew some drastic changes were in order.

His mental approach to the game.

His offseason training habits.

Even some things in his personal life.

Ellis returns to the Pacers a new man, seemingly a year older and a decade wiser. You could hear it in the voices of coach Nate McMillan, teammates and front office executives over the past few weeks, and you could feel it in the voice of Ellis on Monday, when the team gathered for Media Day.

RELATED: Pacers Tip Off New Season at 2016 Media Day »

Rebirths don't often occur for professional athletes past the age of 30. By then, those who haven't taken proper care of their bodies and off-court lives have been left behind. The ones that last are either coasting along on the momentum gained from their previous work habits or hanging on for dear life.

Ellis, however, looked in the mirror following what he considers the worst of his 11 NBA seasons, and decided it was time to reinvent himself – not only because of the dangers the old season posed, but the opportunities the new season brings.

"I rededicated myself this summer in the gym," he said, sitting at a table on the Bankers Life Fieldhouse floor. "With the team Larry (Bird) put around us, the pieces he brought in, we have a great opportunity here. I have to do better. I have to do a better job of being the person I've been throughout my career. Last year was tough. I felt like I let the team down, the organization down, the fans down by not doing what they normally see me do.

"It's a new beginning and I wanted to be part of that."

Ellis is bit of a contradiction. He's an alpha-dog personality, and was said to have taken over the locker room in just a couple of days after arriving last season. He's also introverted, at least around people he doesn't know well. He managed several escapes from the locker room without talking with reporters last season, facing them only when his performance demanded he be spoken with.

But when he does talk, the truth comes out. On an occasion when he reveals himself as much as he did on Monday, it has the ring of authenticity, and what he revealed was a high level of disappointment in how he had played. He averaged 13.7 points on 43 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent shooting from the 3-point line, last season, along with 4.7 assists and 1.9 steals. Plenty of players would kill for a season like that, but it was a major plunge for Ellis, who took a career scoring average of 19.3 points into the season. He had averaged fewer points just once in his career, back in his rookie season of 2005-06 (6.8), so long ago that Paul George was a run-of-the-mill 15-year-old high school player in Palmdale, Calif.

Ellis had been signed as a free agent in July of last year, but didn't report to the Pacers' practice gym until just a few days before training camp began. He had undergone surgery on his left knee early in the summer and wasn't recovered. He didn't say anything about it at the time, but it soon became obvious he wasn't the player he had been even the previous season in Dallas, when he averaged 18.9 points. As the season progressed, he developed a baker's cyst in the knee, which eventually drained. The knee grew stronger, but was never right.

He had some moments – 15 games of 20 or more points, a 32-point effort against Denver – but there were plenty of nights when he contributed practically nothing. It wasn't as if he hadn't been warned. Baron Davis, his teammate at Golden State, had told him about the treachery of turning 30 in the NBA. So had Dirk Nowitzki, his teammate in Dallas. Last season was the time for Ellis to learn firsthand.

"It hit me the first month of the regular season; that's when everything started getting bad," he said. "My knee would just flare up. Some days I'd wake up in the morning and it was tough getting out of bed. I didn't want to feel that way no more. Last year I went through it the whole season trying to get through it and psych myself up, but it was a struggle.

"I can't do the same things I was doing when I was 25. Can't approach the game the way I did when I was 20 or 25. It gets much harder as you get older. That was a big challenge for me. I wasn't expecting it; didn't know how to handle it. But I learned from it, took a lot from it, had to re-evaluate myself, had to rededicate myself, re-fire my love for the game."

He got a further nudge from his seven-year-old son, Monta Jr. As the son of any NBA player would do, he went online to check out dad's video highlights. And what he was seeing live with the Pacers wasn't on a par with what he saw from the days with Golden State or Dallas.

"My son reminds me so much of me at his age," Ellis said. "I can see him looking on YouTube, looking at the LeBron's, the Stephs and those guys, and I felt like he missed those things he saw me do in Golden State. He'd say, Daddy, when you going to get back to doing this or that? I said OK, I had to get back in the gym and rededicate myself."

Ellis also mentioned unspecified personal issues that interfered with his performance last season.

"I had a lot of personal things off the court that I had to get grips with," he said. "It's making me a better father and a better husband, and it's going to make me a better player."

Ellis has a gymnasium and weight room at his home in Memphis, and retreated there with his personal trainer, former NBA player Anthony Goldwire in June and July. Ellis and his family came to Indianapolis early in August to enroll his son in school, and joined the workouts at Bankers Life Fieldhouse midway through. He's been there ever since, feeling and looking better than at anytime in the last six years, he said.

If Ellis' practice performances translate to game performances, the Pacers' greatest preseason doubt will be answered in the affirmative. At the end of last season it would have been reasonable to see him as a potential burden. A declining player with three more years on a generous contract that would be difficult to trade. A player who hadn't taken care of his body throughout most of his career.

A player who might not be able to make the transition to playing with a true point guard, Jeff Teague, in the backcourt, after dominating the ball most of last season with George Hill playing off the ball.

All those worries appear to be outdated now. Expectations for him are high, particularly given an offensive pace that should further enable him to recapture his past.

"I expect the vintage Monta," Paul George said. "We've been talking all summer. He said it's the best he's felt since his Golden State days. I was with him last year and knew he was battling a lot of stuff. He wasn't fully healthy. I knew what was going on; I knew his body couldn't hold up. But he was out there every night. I look for him to really explode this year."

That's the defining characteristic of Ellis' career, other than scoring. He's from the if-he-can-walk-he-can-play school. Aches and pains are to be ignored. He's only missed one game because of injury over the past four seasons – a Mavericks game at Indiana in 2015. He missed just one game last season, the final one of the season when he and Paul George were held out for rest.

He'll begin this season as a starter. He'll play off the ball more, and might have to accept playing fewer minutes because of the team's more demanding playing style and depth. He says he's up for whatever McMillan asks.

But if it's up to him, he'll play every minute. After all, time is running out. He knows that now.

"My legs feel great," he said. "As long as I stay on my training and get stronger, I won't take any days off. I can't watch basketball from the sideline."


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

Related Content