Greg Monroe doesn't have a problem playing with Josh Smith, says Greg Monroe. He went out of his way during media day last week to squash reports from both ESPN's Zach Lowe and Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski earlier this summer that said otherwise, calling them "lies."
Monroe, who's never had public spats with any teammates or coaches during his time in Detroit, likely deserves the benefit of the doubt. Smith seems willing to give it to him, although he suggested over the weekend that he's yet to even talk about the issue with Monroe. From Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News:
"You can't really concern yourself with it," Smith said. "But that was my first time dealing with it. Even in Atlanta, nothing like that ever came up in free agency from anybody's camp."
"We'll just continue to work and be in a positive, energetic environment," Smith said. "And I wish nothing but the best for Greg. I hope he gets what he's looking for. If we succeed as a team, I don't see where he wouldn't get his money."
Neither side knows from where surfaced the rumors, which can certainly get away from the business of becoming a better basketball team. It appears the two haven't spoken directly about the rumors, although Monroe said he had a conversation with Stan Van Gundy, insisting he was willing to reach out to clear the air.
"I think if things aren't true, I think the other person who people are kinda throwing under the bus, as a teammate and a man, should come to that individual and let him know that had nothing to do with him," Smith said.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like the air isn't quite clear -- but regardless, Smith has earned accolades from Stan Van Gundy for his hard work so far in training camp. From MLive.com's David Mayo:
"He's getting back down the floor defensively," Van Gundy said. "I think he's trying to do the things that we want done and I think people notice those things."
[...] "I know that Josh feels like he's never really gotten the credit that he deserves in this league. He had a couple years in Atlanta where he was playing at an All-Star level and didn't get that kind of recognition. Hopefully, that continues to drive him, but it all comes down to winning."
Smith bulked up over the summer anticipating a return to power forward. And so far, Smith has practiced exclusive as a power forward in training camp ... but that doesn't mean that we've seen the end of Smith at small forward.
Van Gundy revealed that while he's likely going to stick with one starting lineup, likely bringing either Smith or Monroe off the bench, he's not against the idea experimenting playing Smith alongside Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond during the exhibition season, saying it could happen after the third preseason game. "Everything is on the table right now in terms of what we do, both starting and rotation-wise," he said, according to Mayo.
In small doses -- and with a disciplined offense that limits Smith's 3-point attempts -- maybe it works. But Smith sounds eager to spend the bulk of his time back at his natural position of power forward, where he's re-committed himself to establishing himself as a premier post defender worthy of being named to an All-Defensive team. From Goodwill:
"Definitely a goal of mine. I feel like I've been cheated a couple times," Smith said. "People take for granted how well I guard perimeter guys as well as low-post defenders. Hopefully it'll be highlighted this year, every year I try to go out and be on one of those teams because it's a lost art in this league."
Talk is cheap in October, but Van Gundy has historically put his players in position to succeed on both ends of the floor, so anything is possible. Now your thoughts.