Whenever one of my favorite teams go out and acquire a player who plays the same position as another player on the roster, I'm oddly fascinated by the incumbent player's reaction. Will he be a good teammate and say all the right things? Will he work harder? Or will he pout? Will he demand a trade?
Most fans like to talk about the new player and what he brings to the table, but my first thought is almost always about the player being pushed out. When the Tigers traded for Miguel Cabrera, I yelped and had to change my pants first, but then I thought about Brandon Inge. When Ben Gordon signed, I thought about Richard Hamilton. Last year, I thought about Brandon Knight, even though I loved the Jose Calderon trade. So when Josh Smith agreed to a deal last week, I thought about Greg Monroe, though Smith is supposed to play small forward when they share the court together; still, how's Monroe's going to take this?
It's kind of like when the bride is beginning to walk down the aisle, typically everybody stands and stares at the always beautiful bride. I stare at the groom. I want to see his reaction. Is he smiling? Is he crying? Will he turn and run?
Not a perfect analogy, and not all the examples are similar - certainly not this one, as Monroe shouldn't be replaced while the others arguably should've been - but I think you get the point. I've been anxiously awaiting for Monroe to speak publicly about the addition of Josh Smith.
Monroe finally spoke about it on Monday [via MLIVE]:
"When he signed that offer sheet," Monroe said, "everything changed." [...]
"At the end of the day, you have to be curious," about how the rotations play out, Monroe said. " We're teammates now. We're trying to win. Obviously, we have to find a way to make sure that happens." [...]
"Josh Smith is just that good of a player," Monroe said. "When someone like that joins a team, expectations are going to rise. You can't get around that. He's that good. I understand that and everyone else understands it, also.
"But whether he was here or not, people on the team want things to be different. Obviously, he's going to help that process. But I think, as a team, we want it to be different anyway." [...]
"He's a stat-stuffer," Monroe said. "Obviously very versatile. He can score, rebound, pass, block shots, steals -- he does everything, does everything well. Obviously, he's very athletic and can get out in the open court, too. So he brings a whole lot, adds another dimension to this team."
Monroe's not stupid. "Curious" is a smart way of putting it and, yes, even if the numbers paint a grim picture, Josh Smith brings higher expectations. You can't sign a fringe All Star for $56 million without bringing a load of expectations. The fit might look horrible on paper, but it's up to Monroe, Smith, Maurice Cheeks and the rest of the team to figure out a way to make it work. They have to. Not only to save Joe Dumars' job, but more importantly, Monroe's interest in staying with the Pistons long term. Unlike past Detroit athletes who have been unceremoniously pushed aside by incoming players, Monroe is one we should want happy and sticking.