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.
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.