Report: Don’t expect a Greg Monroe trade (unless it’s a blockbuster)

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Greg Monroe is going to be the name at the heart of a lot of trade rumors the next 10 days. The reason is this: Monroe is a restricted free agent this summer, the Pistons have three more years of Josh Smith at $12 million a year, and coming soon they are going to have to pay obvious max player Andre Drummond a lot of money. So Monroe appears the odd man out.

But it’s not that simple.

Detroit has a great asset in Monroe and they know it — he is quality offensive center who is scoring 14.3 points on 51.5 percent shooting plus grabs 8.7 rebounds a game. (Those numbers are down from last year but that is more about the mess that is the Pistons than Monroe). They are not going to just give him away — and they may match any max offers for him this summer.

David Aldridge lays it out well at NBA.com.

For the moment, the Pistons remain adamant that the 23-year-old Monroe is a key part of their future, alongside second-year center Andre Drummond. But they opted not to give Monroe an extension before last October’s deadline, though they can match any other team’s offer he’ll receive next summer. The problem, as the Pistons knew last fall, is that Monroe’s agent is David Falk. He has gotten the price he said he’d get for his clients for two decades — and he says the price for Monroe will be a max contract….

Yet the Pistons aren’t going to move Monroe unless it’s a blockbuster deal. Offering just expiring contracts won’t get it done. The hope in Detroit is that Monroe’s situation is resolved in similar fashion to how Oklahoma City eventually worked out a four-year, $49 million contract with Serge Ibaka before he hit free agency…

If Falk finds a team ready to give Monroe the max or something close to it, expect Detroit to match the offer sheet and worry about the money later.

This doesn’t mean the Pistons are going to keep Monroe long-term — the Drummond, Monroe, Smith front line just doesn’t work (particularly on defense) and even if it did in a couple of years it’s going to be wildly expensive, once Monroe and Drummond get new deals.

However, the Pistons know they have a real asset, and they know you can’t just give that away. If they are going to go with Smith and Drummond ultimately up front, they are going to need to get real value back for Monroe if and when they move him.

How you get quality assets back in a trade you need to have” 1) something people want; 2) leverage.

The Pistons have number one locked up in Monroe. By not trading him and matching any offers, they get No. 2.

Robin Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Jae Crowder’s shoe (VIDEO)

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Why did Robin Lopez tie Jae Crowder‘s shoe during Sunday’s Game 4 between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls? We may never know. Perhaps he was just helping the Celtics forward after he tossed him to the ground? Or maybe he’s just doing weird Robin Lopez things?

In any case, Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Crowder’s shoe after it came off during a battle down low early in the third quarter at United Center.

Here’s how it went down.

Via Twitter:

I still have no idea.

Noticeably frustrated, Russell Westbrook gets prickly with reporter after loss to Rockets (VIDEO)

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The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets played an ugly game down the stretch on Sunday. The Rockets employed a hack-a-Andre Roberson strategy, while the Thunder played sloppy and often poorly with Russell Westbrook out of the game.

The latter was the subject in question when Oklahoman reporter Berry Tramel spoke with Westbrook and Steven Adams at a postgame press conference following the Game 4 loss, 113-109.

Tramel’s question — whether the Rockets got a boost when Westbrook was off the floor — was directed at Adams, but the Thunder MVP candidate couldn’t let it go.

Snapping at Tramel, Westbrook told him not to split them up.

Via Twitter:

Tramel’s question is legitimate, and one of the overarching themes of this series thus far. Westbrook’s response is pretty far off the mark, but it did tell the story of how he’s feeling going away from Chesapeake Arena down 3-1.

Game 5 is on Tuesday in Houston.

Kevin Love throws full court pass to LeBron James for sweet and-1 bucket (VIDEO)

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Kevin Love and LeBron James were locked in an epic battle with the Indiana Pacers during the first half of Sunday’s Game 4 playoff matchup. Part of that matchup included yet another long, full court pass between the Cleveland Cavaliers duo.

Love, as you might guess, was the passer and LeBron was again the receiver.

The play came in the final minute of the second quarter, with Love nabbing a rebound from the right block and LeBron jetting down the floor.

Love’s pass was perfectly placed, and Paul George just didn’t have the strength to keep him from getting the and-1.

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Nene’s 28 lead Rockets past Thunder for 3-1 series lead

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Nene scored 28 points on perfect shooting from the field, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Nene made all 12 of his shots and had 10 rebounds. He helped the Rockets overcome an off night by James Harden, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each scored 18 points for the Rockets. Trevor Ariza had 14.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Houston.

Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. The Thunder said Westbrook joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to claim three consecutive playoff triple-doubles.

Steven Adams scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo added 15 for the Thunder.

Westbrook had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at the break. He grabbed the 10th rebound in the final second of the second quarter, and the Thunder led 58-54 at intermission. Meanwhile, Harden made just 2 of 9 shots and scored just six points in the first half.

The Thunder opened the second half with a 10-2 run, but Houston closed to 77-73 at the end of the third quarter.

Adams made the first of two free throws with 21.7 seconds remaining to cut Oklahoma City’s deficit to four. He rebounded his missed second free throw and found Westbrook for a 3-pointer that cut Houston’s lead to one point. But the Thunder lost track of Nene on the other end, and he converted a three-point play. Gordon’s two free throws with 6.2 seconds made it a four-point game.

TIP-INS

Rockets: G Patrick Beverley was fined $25,000 by the NBA for confronting a fan after Game 3. The league announced the fine about two hours before Game 4 tipped off.

Thunder: Westbrook had just one turnover in the first half. … Adams went 6 for 6 from the field in the first half. … Westbrook missed all six of his shots in the third quarter.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.