Report: Greg Monroe wants Josh Smith traded

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Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond spent last season getting in each other’s way.

Drummond is the Pistons’ franchise player, so he’s not going anywhere. If the problem will truly solve itself, something must be addressed between Smith and Monroe.

Monroe, a restricted free agent, is trying to make a power player assuring that happens.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

multiple sources say Monroe’s camp has made it known Monroe will sign the one-year qualifying offer if Smith remains on the roster. Monroe’s camp denies that, and that kind of empty threat is not atypical from top restricted free agents. It’s really their only form of leverage.

You might have seen the same thing from Kyrie Irving. Was he really unhappy in Cleveland, or was he just feigning displeasure to convince the Cavs to offer him $23 million more than any team could – maybe $41 million more if he’s voted a starter to the 2015 All-Star Game –  a year earlier than they had to?

Irving’s only leverage was convincing the Cavaliers they needed to keep him happy.

Monroe has even less leverage than that, though.

His qualifying offer is $5,479,934. Would he turn down a max contract to take that, just due to Smith?

Stan Van Gundy surely knows the problems Smith brings. The Pistons’ new president/coach has already indicated Monroe, Smith and Drummond can’t  share the court and has talked Smith trade with the Kings.

But dumping Smith, who’s owed $40.5 million over the next three years, is easier said than done. Monroe applying pressure to the Pistons doesn’t make it any easier – or harder. It’s already difficult enough.

This actually might bode well for the Pistons, who have about $7 million left in cap room after signing Jodie Meeks. (I’m assuming Cartier Martin is on an minimum contract and would sign after the cap space is used.)

Monroe’s cap hold of $10,216,135 is less than his projected max starting salary of $14,756,881. As soon as Monroe signs, with the Pistons or an offer sheet elsewhere, his 2014-15 salary replaces his cap hold on Detroit’s books. If that’s a max contract, the Pistons immediately lose $4,540,745 of cap space.

So, if Monroe holds out – no rush to sign the qualifying offer – that gives the Pistons more time to use their cap space first. If Monroe’s demands get Smith traded, that would likely be even better for Detroit.

But in the unlikely event Monroe signs the qualifying offer, which would give him a no-trade clause and make him an unrestricted free agent next summer, this could all backfire in a big way for the Pistons.

I don’t think it would come to that, but Monroe wants Van Gundy to know the option is on the table.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.