It’s possible that Greg Monroe ends the 2017-18 NBA season with yet another team.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Phoenix Suns will be looking to offload Monroe’s expiring $17.8 million deal after swapping him for Eric Bledsoe.
That would leave the Suns with an acquisition package that amounts to whomever they get in return for Monroe as well as the first and second round picks the Milwaukee Bucks sent over in the original trade.
Monroe, 27, doesn’t fit into the Suns’ long-term rebuilding plans, and he likely would prefer to join a contending team as a free agent to increase his value on his way into the summer marketplace. Talks could eventually come on a contract buyout, and it’s unlikely that he would remain in Phoenix beyond the February trading deadline — leaving either by buyout or trade.
That’s a tough position to be put in as a team looking to acquire Monroe. First, if he’s looking to hit the market in free agency — and who can blame him after sticking with the Bucks last time around — then you’re trading a rental. That narrows it to teams who would want to sign him this summer or who might need him for a championship run.
Monroe’s considerable salary could be a problem for championship-hopeful teams, although it’s not clear what Phoenix wants in return. My inclination is that they’d want more picks, but that might be tough given the cap hit.
The market for expiring deals has softened over the past decade and you rarely see squads taking on big salaries like that just for the cap relief the next year. Teams like the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers have cap room, but we don’t yet know whether they’d be interested in Monroe.
Portland is over the cap but has a significant $12.9 million trade exception from the Allen Crabbe deal. Neil Olshey was reportedly interested in trading for Monroe in prior seasons, but whether he still is isn’t clear. The Blazers would still have to unload some salary in a swap for Monroe, likely one of Meyers Leonard, Shabazz Napier, or Noah Vonleh.
It’s fun to speculate now, but the Suns might have a tough time finding a suitor for Monroe. This NBA season has already been exceptionally weird, so I wouldn’t rule it out.