Report: Pistons not even considering trading Greg Monroe

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The Pistons have a big-man problem.

They have three good bigs – Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond – who start but have, so far, fit poorly together.

The problem isn’t a single one of them. Rather, it’s an issue of fit.

When all three play:

  • Offensive rating: 104.3
  • Defensive rating: 112.2
  • Net rating: –7.9

However, remove one from the lineup – doesn’t matter which one – and things suddenly look much better for Detroit.

Monroe and Drummond, not Smith:

  • Offensive rating: 113.6
  • Defensive rating: 109.4
  • Net rating: +4.2

Smith and Monroe, not Drummond:

  • Offensive rating: 106.9
  • Defensive rating: 100.5
  • Net rating: +6.4

Smith and Drummond, not Monroe:

  • Offensive rating: 111.6
  • Defensive rating: 105.2
  • Net rating: +6.4

(numbers via nbawowy)

What should the Pistons do about this?

Removing one of the three from the starting lineup could work, as could trading one for a more-traditional wing player.

Smith probably doesn’t have much trade value after signing a four-year, $54 million contract this summer. His production has slipped, and teams might not accept such a burdensome contract without attaching one of their own bad contracts in the deal.

Drummond is even more untradeable for the opposite reason. He’s too good for too cheap a salary to make a trade viable. It’s difficult to match salaries when most of the players whose value are as high as his are on max contracts and he’s still on his rookie deal.

That leaves Monroe, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. Monroe is more likely than not to receive a max contract, so the Pistons should decide before the deadline whether he’s worth that. If not, they should trade him. That dealing him, both by omission and addition, would likely improve the frontline should move the needle toward a trade.

But the Pistons don’t see it that way.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

I can say with certainty there is no talk of trading Greg Monroe currently. Could that change? Sure, but right now the Pistons are going to be patient.

You can’t prove a negative, so it’s logically impossible for Ellis to say this with absolute certainty. He can know a trusted source in position to know told him as much, but that’s the limit.

But assuming Ellis is correct, the Pistons should get over it and stop being so stubborn.

They’re 14-22. If the season ended right now, not only would they miss the playoffs, they’d send their first-round pick to the Bobcats to complete the Ben Gordon trade. They’re facing disaster, and they won’t even entertain trading Monroe?

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I actually don’t think the Pistons should trade Monroe for a lesser and/or older wing player, the most likely return, even though that would likely improve the team this season.

I think it’s still possible, though unlikely, the three-big lineup works with more time. Most of all, I just think a young and productive big like Monroe is too valuable to trade for a  quick fix.

But to not explore a trade is choosing to limit your options for improving, and I don’t see the point of that.

Draymond Green guarantees Warriors will beat Rockets in Western Conference finals

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Warriors coach Steve Kerr is confident despite his team trailing the Rockets 3-2 in the Western Conference finals.

Golden State forward Draymond Green goes further.

Green, via Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic:

“We still winning this,” Draymond Green said. “Book it.”

Of course, Green is confident. He’d never say he expects his team to lose.

But he didn’t need to frame it this way. He could’ve said he was just focused on the next game rather than make such a bold proclamation.

He’s taking pressure upon himself and putting his reputation on the line. If Golden State loses, especially in Game 6 at home with Chris Paul out, Green will be widely mocked.

If he and the Warriors pull through, he’ll probably deserve praise for setting a tone that helped them advance.

Danny Green: Kawhi Leonard told me he wants to stay with Spurs

AP Photo/Eric Gay
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The Spurs are reportedly worried Kawhi Leonard‘s camp wants to get him to the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks or 76ers.

Leonard hasn’t said much himself – except apparently to San Antonio teammate Danny Green

Get Up on ESPN:

Green:

I talk to him here and there, check up on him, see how he’s doing.

I think he wants to be in San Antonio. He’s let me know that. He’s let me know verbally he wanted to be there. So, we’ll see what happens.

Green has tried playing peacemaker throughout this saga – going as far as denying tension that clearly exists. He’s not the most reliable source.

And even if Leonard explicitly told Green he wants to remain in San Antonio, I’m not sure Leonard is confrontational enough to tell Green he wanted out, even if he did.

Those caveats acknowledged, this could be a huge revelation.

If Leonard wants to stay with the Spurs, the next step is meeting with them, mending their relationship and convincing them he deserves a super-max extension (which projects to be worth $219 million over five years). No matter how Leonard feels about San Antonio right now, if the Spurs don’t trust investing so much in him, that could lead to a fractured relationship and his exit.

So, there’s still a lot to sort out. But Green saying this means something.

LeBron James flips elimination-game game on its head

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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His Cavaliers down 3-2 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, how does LeBron James assess his situation?

"I don’t enjoy being in the position where it’s you lose and go home," LeBron said before Game 6 tonight in Cleveland.

He might not enjoy this position, but he’s pretty good in it.

Since he first reached the playoffs in 2006, other teams have won 26% of their elimination games. LeBron’s teams have won 57% of theirs.

Of course, LeBron hasn’t gone 12-9 in elimination games just because he’s lucky. He has willed his team off the mat numerous times.

LeBron has scored 40 points and/or had a triple-double in six straight elimination games, winning five of them. His line in his last elimination game before that streak? Just 32 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.

A full history of LeBron’s elimination games:

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Rockets played with fire with Chris Paul, got burned

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Chris Paul played 79 minutes in three days.

Prior to Games 4 and 5 of these Western Conference finals, he hadn’t done that in more than two years. He hadn’t done it without both games going to overtime in more than three years.

The Rockets leaned heavily on the 33-year-old Paul, and they’ll pay the price.

Paul will miss Game 6 against the Warriors tomorrow. Given how quickly Houston ruled out Paul with a strained hamstring, he seems unlikely to play in a potential Game 7 Monday.

Injuries are somewhat – but not completely – random. Players are more susceptible when worn down. After missing the close of the 2016 postseason, Paul missed 45 games the last two regular seasons. He has accumulated a lot of mileage in his 13-year career.

Yet, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni drastically shortened his rotation, anyway. Not only did Paul play big minutes in this series, he shouldered a huge load. He took the reins of the offense at times, allowing James Harden to conserve energy for defense, while maintaining his own strong-two way play. That’s never easy, especially in these high-intensity games.

This was the risk.

We can feel bad for Paul and his predicament. We can also acknowledge Houston got this far by gambling on Paul’s health.

That’s not to say it was a bad bet. This is what you save him for, the biggest playoff series of his career and maybe one of the last before he exits his prime. The Rockets would have been far worse off to this point resting Paul extensively and protecting him. Even with such a heavy workload, an injury was never fait accompli. And Houston got plenty from Paul before he went down. He was instrumental to wins in Game 4 and Game 5 that gave the Rockets a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Now, they just must hope that’s enough of a head-start into a world of playing without Paul.