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.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.