clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NBA Free Agency: Greg Monroe is going to get close to max money and that's OK

The Detroit Pistons have reportedly made retaining Monroe it's highest offseason priority. Good.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

According to a story from The Detroit News, the Detroit Pistons have made retaining the services of restricted free agent Greg Monroe the team's its highest priority.


The story discusses potential suitors and gets a few interesting comments from head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy.

But I'm more interested in something else -- why Greg Monroe, despite perceptions from NBA pundits, fans and others will get paid, and will deserve to be paid, maximum or near-maximum money in the offseason.


Because players that do what Monroe has done get paid the maximum, that's why. And because Monroe is likely to improve as a basketball player on both ends of the floor.

If this sounds familiar it is because both myself, other Detroit Bad Boys writers and many DBB fans have been saying this for months if not years.

Why does this need constant repeating? I'm not sure, but any time I venture out beyond the cozy bubble of the Pistons blog-o-sphere, I see indications that people don't realize how good a player Monroe is and how much he is worth either as a free agent or in a trade.

We see this here at Detroit Bad Boys when fans wander in proposing trades for the likes of Jeff Green, Harrison Barnes, Ryan Anderson and Gordon Hayward. Don't get me wrong, Anderson and Hayward have been really good players in the past and might be really good in the future. But Monroe is a commodity that doesn't come along very often.

What do I mean by that? Well, first consider the circumstances Monroe has found himself in (and probably one of the motivating factors in him possibly looking to move onto a new team). In his four seasons in the NBA, Monroe has led his team in minutes and field goal attempts just once apiece (both in 2012-13 which was also his best year). This despite the fact that in each one of his first three seasons he led his team in Offensive Win Shares, and last year settled for second thanks to the beast known as Andre Drummond.

One could easily argue, therefore, that Monroe has been the Pistons' most skilled, most effective offensive weapon. But because he has not routinely been the No. 1 option, his offensive output has been partially deflated. He has averaged 14 points and nine rebounds in his career - a very good number but probably not all that he is capable of providing.

But even with that partially deflated baseline, Monroe's 14 points and nine rebounds at age 23 is something few big men have accomplished. Going back to 2001, only 14 players 24 years old or younger have averaged 14 and nine.

Year Player Total Contact Average First Year % of Salary Cap
2003 Elton Brand $65 million $13.2 million $11.0 million 25.1
2003 Shawn Marion $86.3 million $14.3 million $10.9 million 24.9
2003 Jermaine O'Neal $126.6 million $18.1 million $13.2 million 30.1
2004 Carlos Boozer $68 million $11.3 million $11.0 million 25.1
2006 Amar'e Stoudemire $73 million $14.6 million $12.5 million 23.5
2007 Chris Bosh $59 million $14.8 million $12.5 million 22.5
2008 Dwight Howard $80 million $16 million $13.8 million 23.5
2008 Emeka Okafor $72 million $12 million $9.5 million 16.2
2012 Kevin Love $62 million $15.5 million $13.7 million 23.6
2012 Blake Griffin $94.3 million $18.9 million $16.4 million 28.3
2014 DeMarcus Cousins $62 million $15.5 million $13.7 million 23.4
2015 Greg Monroe ??? ??? ??? ???
2017 Anthony Davis ??? ??? ??? ???

The NBA salary cap is so complicated that it's hard to say definitely that almost all of these players signed "maximum" contracts, but they're all in that range of the 25 percent of the cap for a player with six or less years in the league.

Players that just missed the cut include Marc Gasol (age), Roy Hibbert, Al Horford (points) and Brook Lopez (rebounds). Still, it's an impressive list. And just as importantly, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a team that would be disappointed for inking any of the above players to their big contracts except perhaps the latter years of the injury-plagued O'Neal's deal.

Are NBA fans, and especially Pistons fans, really going to quibble about how much Monroe is worth on the open market? Big men that do what Monroe has done get paid max or near-max money. And teams that sign these players don't live to regret it.

Even if you look at the above list and think Monroe is among the bottom tier of players (a fair assessment), a player on the bottom of a list of max players is still a player.

Pay the man his money, Pistons. And fans need to stop assuming that some asinine reason like the presence of Josh Smith or his lack of a perimeter jump shot means Detroit is better off without him. Because you can't easily replace guys like this. That's why they have been paid and will continue to get paid the big bucks.

Monroe is going to get an offer that will pay him between $12 million and $15 million for the 2014-15 NBA season. He will sign for four years. And he will likely be worth it.