In a piece largely devoted to Stan Van Gundy's new dual role as president of basketball operations and head coach of the Detroit Pistons, ESPN writer Michael Wallace breaks a little news. Specifically:
The Pistons and Monroe are believed to have discussed a deal somewhere in the range of the five-year, $60 million contract center Marcin Gortat agreed to last week to remain with the Washington Wizards.
Now, I wouldn't necessarily take this as a hard and fast truth -- there are a lot of wiggle words being used in this sentence. Believed to. Discussed. Somewhere in the range.
Not very definitive.
Still, it's the first sense of parameters we've gotten other than the endless "max" or "not the max" debate. Of course, the reality was going to be more nuanced.
A deal similar to Gortat's could mean two things: 1. The Pistons are hoping to pay Moose an average salary of $12 million per year, which is certainly on the low end of expectations. 2. the Pistons believe Monroe is worth approximately $60 million.
As a restricted free agent, If Monroe were to get an offer sheet from another team that team could only offer him a four-year deal that the Pistons could then decide whether or not to match. At $12 million annually that would be a $48 million deal. At $60 million total that would be $15 million annually.
If it's the former, it's much more likely that the Pistons did all the talking while Monroe patiently listened. Because with the way the market has developed $12 million per year for Monroe would be a steal. For comparison's sake, the Charlotte Hornets offered Gordon Hayward a four-year deal valued at $63 million. That means he would make an average of $15.75 million.
Likely, this was an opening bid by the Pistons and neither side has an expectation that it will be the final number. What is less clear is if the Pistons have the ability to sign Monroe to a five-year deal (much like Washington did with Gortat). I know there are limits on contract length that are reserved for "designated players."
If Monroe was a normal free agent, a team with his Bird Rights (like the Pistons) could sign him to a five-year deal and also extend Andre Drummond's rookie deal as the "designated player" for five years. But if Monroe's deal is considered a contract extension then he would only be eligible for a four-year deal as Drummond is earmarked for the longer extension.
Van Gundy has said all the right things about wanting Monroe back, but talk is cheap, and if the Pistons offer is stingy then Monroe might be playing elsewhere next season.
"There's no hesitation there. From Day 1, Greg can tell you, he's the first player I met with within the first few days of getting the job. We made it clear we want him back," Van Gundy said during a media session at Orlando Summer League, according to the Detroit News.
But during the same session, he also said, "I'm not hesitant at all. We want Greg Monroe back. But it's got to be a mutual thing, too."
As Dan Feldman at PistonPowered notes, it doesn't technically have to be a "mutual thing" as Pistons can match any offer sheet Monroe signs. But perhaps Van Gundy is taking the reported threat of Monroe signing his qualifying offer and being a restricted free agent next season seriously.
That threat to take the qualifying offer was a side item in the Josh Smith ultimatum that Greg Monroe vehemently denied ever happened and Van Gundy has denied in every interview since the reports surfaced.
While all this Greg Monroe drama quietly percolates in the background while the rest of the world waits for LeBron James to make his big decision, I'll just be glad when it's all over -- hopefully with Monroe still in a Pistons uniform.