Greg Monroe returned to New Orleans to participate in a youth basketball camp on Saturday, and took time out to discuss his impending free agency with Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune. The whole article is worth reading, as Monroe discusses how he feels about the process, comparing it to his experience of being recruited by colleges when he was at Helen Cox High School.
Several teams are expected to show interested in the 6-foot-11, 250-pound Monroe who averaged 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds while starting all 82 games last season.
Among those teams could be the New Orleans Pelicans, who will enter the free agency period in search of upgrading their center and small forward positions.
While the Pelicans, with about $7 million in salary cap room, don't appear to have enough cap space to sign Monroe, a source said the team has made some initial inquiries to the Pistons about the possibility of working out a sign-and-trade deal.
It’s no surprise that New Orleans is interested in Monroe, who could join Anthony Davis to form a potent young frontcourt. So we would expect them to be one of several teams inquiring about the possibility of a sign-and-trade. Whether Detroit is receptive to any of these offers is still not known. Presumably if the organization is unwilling to retain him with a max contract, they will look for the best available sign-and-trade offer. Otherwise the Pistons would lose Monroe without receiving any talent back as compensation.
In previous discussions on this site regarding the possibility of an offer from the Pelicans, the other centerpiece of a suggested trade has been Ryan Anderson. The fact that he played for Stan Van Gundy in Orlando (where he helped to stretch the floor for Dwight Howard) only heightens the speculation that Anderson might head to Motown.
Anderson is a career .386 percent three-point shooter, and was making .409 percent and averaging 19.8 points per game when he suffered a season-ending injury on January 3, 2014. He had to be taken off the court on a stretcher. His injury was later diagnosed as a herniated cervical disc, and he had surgery to repair it on April 8. At the time it was estimated that his recovery would take up to six months, which could be as late as early September.
Anderson has two years/$17 million left on his current contract. While his shooting ability would seem to make him an ideal partner for Andre Drummond, he does not excel as a defender or rebounder. He does have good size at 6-10, 240, and is only 26 years old (Monroe is 24).
Given that Monroe has been an injury-free rock in Detroit for the last four years, replacing him with Anderson would appear to be a gamble. While the Pistons could start Josh Smith at power forward, both Anderson and Monroe are more efficient offensive options. Van Gundy would also need to sign another backup center, since the only other one currently on the roster is Josh Harrellson.
It seems likely that New Orleans would also need to offer more than just Anderson in order to seal a prospective deal. One intriguing option would be for these teams to also swap point guards, with Jrue Holiday (three years/$33.3 million) flying north and Brandon Jennings (two years/$16.3 million) landing in Louisiana. Holiday is also coming of a season-ending injury; he had surgery to repair a stress fracture to his right tibia back in March. He was averaging 14.3 points, 7.9 assists, and making .390 percent of his threes when he went down after 34 games.
With free agency officially beginning in two weeks, it’s likely that speculation about whether Monroe will stay in Detroit or will head elsewhere will only heat up. Strap on your seatbelts Pistons’ fans, because the ride could get bumpy.