A couple of facts are leading people to speculate about the Pistons.
The first fact is that the Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe trio is not working out together in Detroit — the Pistons are -6.3 per 48 when all three are on the court together this season (813 minutes), and the team allows 108.7 points per 100 possessions when they are paired, which if you extended it is worse than any team’s season long defense in the entire NBA. However, when you pair two of the three things improve, and not shockingly Smith looks better when playing the four.
The second fact is Monroe will be a restricted free agent this summer and is going to get a big payday. Likely an eight figure a year payday from some team. The Pistons just invested $50 million in a Smith contract and want to pay Drummond with an extension, so can they afford Monroe?
The fairly logical leap from there is that the Pistons will try to move Monroe at the trade deadline in three weeks.
Sources briefed on the situation told ESPN.com this week that the Pistons have been telling teams with Monroe interest that the restricted free agent-to-be — no matter what you’ve heard — is not available…
Sources say teams calling to inquire about Monroe’s availability are being advised that he’s not on the market.
Of course, this could change as the trade deadline nears, if Joe Dumars gets an offer he likes. And the smart negotiating tactic is to say no until and offer you love comes through the door.
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Dumars was all but ordered by owner Tom Gores to make the playoffs this season, and Josh Smith was supposed to be the key to that (along with point guard Brandon Jennings). But as noted, the big frontcourt trio doesn’t work together (plus Jennings has been… well, Jennings). Detroit is in a scramble with Charlotte, New York and Cleveland for one of the final playoff spots in the East.
The Pistons have a cluttered front court right now, a move of Monroe makes some sense, but they likely don’t get equal value back in a deal (teams feel they can poach him for nothing this summer with a big offer) and less talent may mean less of a shot at the playoffs.
Any way you look at it, you have to wonder how long Dumars hangs on in Detroit.