New Pistons president/coach Stan Gundy called Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe “an ideal pairing.”
Few are as bullish as me on Drummond and Monroe playing together – as long as Josh Smith isn’t also on the court mucking everything up – but even I think that’s a bit much. Neither Drummond nor Monroe has much shooting range, and both need major work defensively before it’s even possible to determine how well they’d complement each other on that end.
Mostly, the pairing works because Drummond (20) and Monroe (24) are similar ages and talented. They can grow together, and as much as Drummond is central to the Pistons’ future, it would be foolish to throw away Monroe just because he’s not the absolute best on-court fit next to Drummond.
But if the Pistons could get value for Monroe, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, that would change the discussion.
While the Pelicans, with about $7 million in salary cap room, don’t appear to have enough cap space to sign Monroe, a source said the team has made some initial inquiries to the Pistons about the possibility of working out a sign-and-trade deal.
Monroe, a New Orleans native, would likely hold interest in playing for his hometown Pelicans. But no matter where he plays, he’ll be seeking a max contract.
To make a sign-and-trade work financially, New Orleans has four players it could send to Detroit: Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday or Ryan Anderson.
I doubt the Pelicans would trade Holiday or Evans after acquiring them just last offseason, and Evans probably wouldn’t pique the Pistons’ interest anyway. They don’t need another player without 3-point range, especially a guard.
The Pelicans would love to unload Gordon, and if they want to discuss a deal based around Gordon for Smith – two overpaid players who still hold promise due to their talent, even if it hasn’t shown lately – that could work. But for Monroe? That should be a non-starter in Detroit.
That leaves Anderson.
Anderson, 26, is older than Monroe, meaning his prime will overlap less with Drummond’s – a significant concern. But Anderson is still reasonably young and, as a stretch four, a perfect on-court match for Drummond. Anderson had his best years in Orlando under Van Gundy and has reached levels Monroe never has. The biggest concern is how Anderson recovers from a neck injury that kept him out most of this season.
The Pelicans might not trade Anderson for Monroe, and they probably shouldn’t – unless Anderson isn’t healthy, and then Detroit shouldn’t. Monroe would be a bigger player to pair with Anthony Davis, but the price is too high.
Still, if there were one sign-and-trade possibility that works for both teams, it starts with Anderson for Monroe.