Report: Greg Monroe ‘doesn’t really have a great interest in going back and playing with the Pistons’

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Not unlike Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe is stuck.

The Pistons’ restricted free agent is seeking a max contract – as he should – but this late in free agency, the market seems to have dried up. It’s difficult to see any team extending him a large offer sheet, giving Detroit a ton of leverage in negotiations.

So like Bledsoe and/or his representatives did, Monroe and/or his representatives expressed his unhappiness with his current team to gain a bit of power at the bargaining table. In Monroe’s case, it was demanding a trade of Josh Smith.

That might have been nothing but a ploy, but at least one plugged-in reporter says the request were in line with Monroe’s true feelings.

Adrian Wojnarowski on Aime Mukendi Jr.’s AIMEzing Words podcast at about the 10:40 mark (hat tip: Sean Corp of Detroit Bad Boys):

Greg Monroe, Detroit has tried to help him with some sign-and-trade possibilities around the league. Monroe doesn’t really have a great interest in going back and playing with the Pistons. But if they’re going to move him in a sign and trade, they’ve got to get value for him. And they’ve got to get back some significant players, some significant talent, to compensate for that loss. They haven’t been able to find a deal for him.

They’ve talked with Atlanta. I believe they talked to Phoenix for a while. Those are two off the top of my head that they had conversations with and there was interest. Portland had some interest early on, but those teams moved on, and they realized – again, they could have signed Monroe to an offer sheet, but Detroit would have likely matched it, and they weren’t just going to let him leave for nothing.

Monroe, Smith and Andre Drummond have played terribly together, and Monroe had often been the one left marginalized and agitated. With Smith under contract for three more years and reportedly unlikely to be traded, I can see why Monroe wants to move on.

But that that trio was created and elevated by the previous regime.

Stan Van Gundy has tried to sell Monroe on a vision that includes Monroe and Drummond excelling together. At least that’s the line Van Gundy sells publicly.

I actually believe Monroe and Drummond could thrive together – with three shooters also on the court, and that means no Smith. But if Smith isn’t going to be traded, the Pistons would be wise to explore Monroe sign-and-trade that return value.

Interest from the Hawks, Trail Blazers and Suns is no secret. Portland already signed Chris Kaman, which, as Wojnarowski said, likely ended interest in Monroe. But Atlanta and Phoenix, especially with Bledsoe unsigned, still make some sense.

In the end, it’s difficult to see a team offering Monroe a contract he deems worthy AND surrendering assets Detroit deems worthy. The most likely scenario is Monroe returning to the Pistons.

He might not like playing with Smith, and maybe this turns into a Nene-like delayed sign-and-trade. Or maybe the Pistons eventually trade Smith.

Either way, Monroe could be playing for a team that suits him soon enough. But if he wants to get paid rather than take the one-year qualifying offer, he’ll likely have to sign with the Pistons – or sign an offer sheet they’d match – first.

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.

Clippers win likely playoff preview 108-95 over Jazz

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jamal Crawford scored 28 points off the bench, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 108-95 on Saturday to clinch a playoff berth for the sixth straight year.

The Clippers trail the Jazz by a half-game in their race for the No. 4 playoff seed in the West. The teams are likely to face in the first round of the postseason.

Blake Griffin added 15 points and DeAndre Jordan had 15 rebounds for the Clippers.

Rudy Gobert had 26 points and 14 rebounds for Utah, and reserve Joe Johnson added 17 points. The Jazz have dropped four of five.

Utah rallied in the third, putting together a 20-6 spurt to trim Los Angeles’ lead to 72-70 heading into the final period. Gobert had nine points and Johnson scored seven during the run that included 10 straight points for the Jazz over one stretch.

Chris Paul and Crawford both got technicals while the Clippers struggled to score and defend.

But Los Angeles turned things around in the fourth, scoring the first eight points for an 80-70 lead. Crawford had 17 points in the quarter, scoring six in a row to push the Clippers’ lead to 103-84. He was 9 of 9 at the free-throw line for the game.

The Clippers grabbed control early on, shooting 52 percent in the first quarter while building a 15-point lead.

The Jazz got within seven to start the second before the Clippers restored their 15-point margin and eventually led 49-41 at halftime.

Utah’s top two scorers, Gordon Hayward and George Hill, struggled. Hayward, who averages 22 points, had 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Hill, who averages 17.1, had nine points while shooting 4 of 11.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Gobert was coming off a career-high 35-point, 15-rebound performance against the Knicks on Tuesday. … G Sheldon Mack missed his 11th straight game with a left ankle sprain. … F/C Derrick Favors remains out with a left knee bone contusion.

Clippers: Their six-year playoff run is the longest in franchise history. … They have won 18 of 20 against the Jazz dating to Feb. 1, 2012. … They won the season series 3-1.

 

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Sixers’ Joel Embiid officially has knee surgery, expected to be back on court in summer

Associated Press
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“The… follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid‘s left knee appears to reveal… the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan.”

When Philadelphia’s chief medical director Dr. Jonathan Glashow said that in a statement announcing Joel Embiid was being shut down for the season, the chance of knee surgery to clean up that meniscus was possible. Friday it became a reality, the team announced.

CSNPhilly.com had the details.

The team expects Embiid to resume basketball activities during this summer, according to Sixers director of performance research and development Dr. David T. Martin. Embiid will begin his rehab in Los Angeles with specialists and Sixers medical and training staff members.

“The overall status of Joel’s lateral meniscus and his cartilage is very good,” surgeon Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache, M.D., who performed the surgery, said in a statement. “Today’s procedure focused on removing a small portion of the meniscus that was responsible for his symptoms.

“The recovery program that has been established targets Joel transitioning back to full weight-bearing in approximately two weeks, at which point a conservative approach to his rehabilitation will be introduced.”

After Embiid missed two seasons with foot issues, there is a tendency to lump everything together and call him injury prone. This, however, was a minor surgery with a relatively short recovery period, even as the Sixers bring him along slowly. There is reason for concern, but this shouldn’t be an issue by next training camp.

Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game despite a minutes restriction all season. He was incredibly efficient in getting his numbers — he had an All-Star level PER of 24.2 — and when he was on the court the Sixers outscored their opponents by 3 points per 100 possessions. He’s still likely a top three finisher in Rookie of the Year balloting despite playing in just 31 games.