Finally, LeBron James allowed the rest of us to continue with our lives by announcing he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. That now means that the rest of NBA free agency can really begin, with free agents such as Carmelo Anthony, Chandler Parsons and Luol Deng now deciding where to go continue their careers. This also means likely more news on the Greg Monroe front, a polarising discussion amongst Pistons fans as to what to do with the talented big, whether to flip him, max him out or start him as a 6th man behind Smith and Drummond. Either way, this article will explain some likely options the Pistons may consider in all scenarios.
This option is the most pleasing and yet potentially the most damaging of avenues the Pistons could take, as there are many variables. Would he start? What would his contract look like? Will the frontcourt be the same brick-happy shambles it was a year ago? Lets face it, whether you like it or not, #MoveSmoove2014 is likely failing, unless perennial contract dumping ground Sacramento revives interest, therefore keeping Monroe around may once again create a glut of frontcourt ineptitude.
Sources say the two parties have discussed a deal similar to the one Marcin Gortat received with the Wizards, one in the region of 5yr/60 million. While Greg Monroe is probably worth that kind of cash, if not a little more, were the Pistons to pay that, would it be as a starter or potentially the most expensive 6th man in the league. I'm a believer of a Smith/Drummond starting big pairing with Monroe first off the bench, but at that contract it becomes a little too reminiscent of Charlie Villanueva, even if Monroe actually knows how to play basketball.
Obviously, SVG has enough sense to see the BIG 3 didn't work (I hope), and therefore won't be repeating it, but he has made it clear that he values all three players, therefore a tandem with one off the bench may be being considered, the only problem would be who between Smith and Monroe would bite the bullet.
The trustworthy folks at ESPN seemed to view Isaiah Thomas and Greg Monroe as the two most likely free agents to be switching zip codes. Whilst they've been proven correct on Thomas (4yr/27 million to Suns), Monroe is still doubtful. However, were we to lose the old fashioned big man, here are some scenarios as to what might happen:
- A team offers Monroe the max, he signs and Pistons don't match, allowing him to walk for free (unlikely)
- A sign and trade with another team, with reported interest from the Cavaliers, Blazers and Pelicans amongst others. I'm not going to pretend I know much on how a sign and trade works, except that it landed us Jennings last season, but this could be the better option to losing Monroe
Blazers: Interest from Portland stems largely around Nicolas Batum, the sweet shooting defensive specialist from France, going into his 7th NBA season. This is the trade with the most promise, as it allows us to add floor spacing as well as a reliable wing defender. If the Pistons can make it work, this is probably the best option, possibly a package around Monroe and other pieces for Batum and one of either Thomas Robinson (famous for elbowing Jonas Jerebko during his time with the Kings) or CJ McCollum, according to reports.
Cavaliers: The Cavaliers are in the market for a center. Varejao is their only real center option at this point, having traded away Tyler Zeller in order to clear cap space for Lebron. However, if I'm the Pistons, I'm only pulling the trigger on this one if it involves Andrew Wiggins, as a package highlighted by names such as Bennett, Waiters or Thompson isn't exactly exhilarating. A trade of Monroe and other pieces for Wiggins and a combination of the aforementioned 3 may suffice.
Pelicans: Like seriously, what do the Pelicans have of real value (The Unibrow aside). Jrue Holiday was injured most of last season, Eric Gordon is overweight and overpaid, and Tyreke Evans is a guard's version of Josh Smith (no thanks!). The only player of interest would've been Anthony Morrow, and he's left in free agency for Oklahoma City (3yr/10 million, very affordable, may regret not chasing him harder). Even Ryan Anderson is a no-no, with him also missing most of last season with neck/back injuries.
Lakers: Apparently the Lakers have expressed interest in Monroe, but they're in a worse situation than NOLA. They've just resigned bench mob members Nick Young and Jordan Hill, bringing their list of contracted players up to around 6 or so. Randle is their only semi-interesting asset, and he's a rebounding big man who can't shoot (sound familiar?).
All throughout the season, I told myself that Monroe should start off the bench, and create a 3 big rotation. However, it is undeniable that the Blazers avenue is one worth pursuing, more so than the others at any rate. At this point in free agency, if I were sitting in the war room, it would be Blazers or nothing on the trade front, and then just keeping Monroe and experimenting with the 6th man idea.