The qualifying offer ("QO") has always been a possibility since the Pistons put it on the table. Many believed that to only be a technicality, but Greg Monroe's camp and even Stan Van Gundy insisted it was a distinct possibility and, now, USA Today reports it's going to happen even if Greg Monroe doesn't know it's going to happen.
The common knee-jerk reaction to Monroe signing the QO -- a one-year, $5.5 million deal -- is that he's stupid for leaving so much money on the table this year and risking future earnings, and/or he must really want to get out of Detroit.
I'm hesitant to agree with any of that.
Tom Ziller recently wrote for SB Nation that no one believes Monroe will take the QO. His first major reason was that no high-end restricted free agent has ever done it before, noting Ben Gordon as the closest example -- who was successful in his decision, as Pistons fans are sad to already know. Really, it shouldn't matter what everybody else has done in similar situations with all of their different circumstances, but if we're looking for comparisons, why not look at a cross-sport example where not settling for the only other deal on the table is ultimately going to pay off.
If you're a Detroit Tigers fan, you're kind of seeing how a similar "gamble" is going for Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. He supposedly turned down the Tigers' reported offer of $144 million over six years to settle for another one-year deal before he'll be unleashed to free agency after the season. Instead of guaranteeing himself $24 million per year through 2019, Scherzer's currently only guaranteed his current one-year deal worth $15.5 million.
In a different sport at an extremely volatile position where one is susceptible to serious injury with one pitch, I thought it was ill-advised of Scherzer to turn down all that money and long-term security, but he's proving me wrong. He believed in his ability to trigger a bigger offer and now he's probably going to earn himself an even heftier contract on the open market this winter.
I think it's reasonable to believe Monroe can put himself into the same successful position.
Many if not most people are quick to first point to the risk of an injury potentially causing Monroe to lose millions in future earnings. Monroe has only missed one game in his last 310, but he can also protect himself there by smartly taking out an insurance policy that would cover his estimated losses in the event something terrible happens. Scherzer's got coverage, and I can't imagine Monroe failing to get it if he accepts the QO.
My guess is that Monroe's bigger concern with taking the QO has to do with his production and whether or not it will live up to or outplay his track record to earn him his deserved big pay day. He has to understand this is Andre Drummond's team now, but I also wonder if he's apprehensive about playing another year, his contract year, with shot hogs Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, all while under a new system that may not feature him as prominently. To me, by taking the QO, he'd not only be putting a lot of stock into his own play, but he'd also have to be putting stock into how he fits under Stan Van Gundy's plans. No, not as much as he'd need to sign long-term, but a good amount nonetheless since it will still greatly impact his future.
Understandably in big business decisions such as this, the focus is turned to money. How can he make the most money? The QO is for one year and $5.5 million, which is roughly $8 million less this upcoming season than what he'd get if he took the Pistons' reported five-year offer (though Moose denied he was ever offered that or the other reported four-year deal).
In the summer of 2015, with the cap likely to increase again by a few million dollars, a max offer from another team -- and there will be several who will be able to afford it -- would be somewhere in the ballpark of four years, $68 million. That'd earn him millions more in a five-year span than the Pistons' initial offer this summer would over the next five years. So, especially if he truly wants out of Detroit -- which only Monroe knows for sure -- the QO makes plenty sense in that regard.
I don't think Monroe accepting the QO automatically means he's a goner either. Which team can give him the most lucrative deal next summer? The Pistons. By a significant amount. A max offer from the Pistons would be worth over $20 million more than any other team could offer with an extra year. That is, of course, if the Pistons decide they want to bring the Moose back that badly.
Ideally, the Pistons will ink Monroe to a long-term deal. But what is ideal for the Pistons might not be ideal for Monroe, and what might be ideal for Monroe is taking the QO. That doesn't mean it's all bad for the Pistons, though; they'd have a top big man at way below market value for a season before being able to offer him more than any other team.
We'll have more on how this affects the Pistons if Monroe does in fact take the QO.
But until then, now your thoughts.