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):
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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.