Greg Monroe talks about how Bucks landed him as free agent

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For the year before Greg Monroe officially became a free agent on July 1, it was assumed by many around the league he would become a Knick. The Lakers were expected to make a pitch, but the smart money was on the Knicks — Monroe’s agent David Falk was Michael Jordan’s agent, a guy with a strong relationship with Phil Jackson.

Then the Milwaukee Bucks surprised everyone and won the chase. Quickly. Monroe announced he would be a Buck and the league did a double take.

How did that happen? Monroe said it had a lot to do with owner Marc Lasry, in a discussion with Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

“That meeting is something I will never forget,” Monroe said. “They made a great presentation to me….”

But none of (the new arena or other parts of the pitch) made the real difference. It was Lasry, the veteran deal-maker and renowned high-stakes poker player, who made the sell with his confidence. Despite never having done a free-agent pitch before, Lasry showed why he’s become one of the Bucks’ strong assets.

Kidd spoke and discussed how he’d use Monroe. General manager John Hammond went over plans and discussed the franchise’s planned moves — the Bucks were closing in on a deal to re-sign Khris Middleton to a new contract that night. But it was Lasry who made the biggest push….

“He was very down to earth, but also passionate, and he connected with Greg,” Falk said. “We didn’t need parades or balloons; this was a business decision. Marc treated it that way. What they had already put in place was strong, and he sold that.”

It was a harsh lesson to the big market teams of the league — if the money is the same (Monroe had multiple max offers), what matters to younger players is the fit and if the team can win. Monroe can own a home and live in New York or Los Angeles in the off-season, but in Milwaukee he saw a chance for success on the court.

The Bucks pitch focused on that fit, on stability (something Monroe never felt in Detroit), and on how he can be a cornerstone part of a team on a trajectory to be a real threat in the East in a few years. That — and again, max money — made a fit.

If everything goes according to the Bucks’ plan, they should have little trouble keeping him after he opts out in three years.