Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe says he ignored rumors about future while in Africa, will focus on getting deal now


The rumors have been swirling around Pistons’ restricted free agent Greg Monroe: That he doesn’t really want to return to the Pistons, that he wants a max contract, that there were sign-and-trade talks with teams, that he wants Josh Smith traded, that front line partner Andre Drummond thinks Monroe will return anyway, and that the Pistons have upped their offer to him.

Monroe says he hasn’t paid attention to any of it.

Monroe is just getting back from time in Africa with the NBA Cares “Basketball Without Borders” program and told Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated that he has been ignoring the rumors while over there, but now that he’s back with a clear head he wants to focus on getting his status resolved.

“It’s been great to get out here, relax, clear my mind and take this new experience in. I don’t listen to all of the reports and rumors — I’m just enjoying the fresh air….

“I’m heading back Saturday. We’re still trying to sort things out. I’m really not sure what is going to happen, I’ve just enjoyed my time here, and it’s been nice to get away and do something positive with my time.”

While Monroe was trying to inspire youth in Africa his agent was still working to get something done stateside. The wheels never stopped churning, he just was outside the continent and the rumor loop, so he could simply ignore it.

But it doesn’t change the fact he is stuck. He should call up Eric Bledsoe and they can commiserate.

No team made a free agent offer because they knew the Pistons would just match it, they weren’t going to let him go for nothing. There have been talks of sign-and-trades — Phoenix, New Orleans and Portland were among those interested — but everyone has walked away after talking price.

Monroe at this point may need to be thinking about his third contract and not this second one — get more money and fewer years so he can get on the open market sooner. He’s not going to be hurting, mind you, the Pistons reportedly offered to pay him more than Josh Smith’s bloated contract (the offer currently on the table is reportedly four years, $54 million), but if he’s not happy with the situation (and nobody should be happy with the Drummond/Smith/Monroe combo) then looking for a way to move on sooner rather than later (or force Detroit to move Smith sooner) may be the best he can do.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.