Greg Monroe is reportedly bringing a gun to a knife fight, as two anonymous sources tell USA Today that not only is Monroe willing to sign a one-year qualifying offer, Monroe will sign a qualifying offer. The space between willing and will might seem small but it caused shockwaves through the Pistons fan community and surprised many NBA watchers.
Here is everything we know and everything we think we know about Greg Monroe's situation.
1. Greg Monroe has NOT signed his qualifying offer.
Nothing is certain until ink hits paper and he signs the formal qualifying offer the Pistons presented to him at the beginning of free agency. In fact, despite the USA Today report, Monroe nor his representatives have informed the team or Stan Van Gundy of Monroe's intention to sign the qualifying offer. So is it legitimate or just a negotiating tactic brought to it's logical conclusion to force resolution one way or the other?
2. Monroe has no reason to sign the qualifying offer until the Oct. 1 deadline
While Monroe might be 100 percent serious about his intention to sign the QO, he has no reason to do so until the Oct. 1 deadline. If the Pistons are taking a hard line in both contract negotiations and in communications with other teams about possible sign-and-trade deals, their stance might soften every day closer to Oct. 1. From a talent perspective, the Pistons stand to get more in a sign-and-trade now than it would in a trade in season. Unless, of course, the Pistons would like to prioritize having available cap space.
3. If Monroe signs his qualifying offer, the Pistons cannot trade him without his consent.
If Monroe is motivated to get out Detroit then he has little incentive to veto a trade, but he does have the ability to veto any possible trade during the 2014-15 NBA season whether it's to Philadelphia or San Antonio.
4. If Monroe signs his qualifying offer his trade market is diminished.
While it might seem easy to trade a really good player that is only making $5.3 million, if Monroe signs his qualifying offer his market will be somewhat reduced, and trades would be significantly more difficult. This is because any team trading for Monroe would not receive his Bird Rights. This means that after next season any team not named the Pistons could not exceed the cap in its effort to re-sign Monroe.
This all but eliminates roughly half the teams in the NBA from being serious suitors for Monroe as they would not be willing to give up significant, valuable assets in return for a Monroe rental. Those teams are the: Nets, Heat, Clippers, Wizards, Nuggets, Warriors, Cavaliers, Pacers, Thunder, Bulls, Rockets. The only way for the Pistons to trade with one of these teams would be if they took back enough in salary so Monroe's team would have confidence it had enough room to re-sign the big man.
4. There will, however, be plenty of teams with at or near max salary cap space available in 2015.
Without doing an extensive assessment of the new contracts, draft picks, etc. not factored into team's commitments, it appears that the Sixers, Magic, Hawks, Knicks, Pistons, Jazz, Lakers, Celtics, Raptors, and Timberwolves all have a sizable war chest to go after Monroe.
5. Greg Monroe will not be the only big man looking for a new contract in 2015.
Monroe would be one of the top free agents available next offseason, but he is not without competition. LeMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Paul Millsap, Robin Lopez, Tristan Thompson, and Tyson Chandler will all be free agents. And several big men could exercise their player option to become free agents, including Brook Lopez, Al Jefferson, Roy Hibbert, David West and Thaddeus Young. And that is only the big men.
6. The Pistons' salary sits at roughly $54,524,248 and 16 players
The salary cap, meanwhile, is $63,065,000. This is a difference of $8,540,752. Also, the team would have to release or trade a player to make room for Monroe. This could be a low-salaried player such as Tony Mitchell ($816,482) or Luigi Datome ($1,750,000) or a veteran who no longer fits such as Will Bynum ($2,915,908). This salary cap space could help facilitate a future trade or help the Pistons be the third team in another deal that needs a team with cap space available to help make a move possible.
7. The Pistons are poised to have roughly $25 million in salary cap space in 2015
Counting Monroe and presuming the team doesn't pick up the second-year option on Caron Butler, the Pistons will have $18.4 million in expiring contracts to work with this season. This could help the team as it looks to remake its roster for the future.
8. The Pistons are still poised to make the best offer to Monroe
In Vincent Goodwill's piece in the Detroit News, a source was quoted as saying Monroe needs "proof of (Van Gundy's vision)." The instant speculation once word came that Monroe would sign the qualifying offer is that he was doing so to get the hell out of dodge as soon as possible. But perhaps the words of his source should be taken at face value. Because as much as the constant coaching turnover and losses piled up so did promises at just about this time of year amounting to, "this time, it's different."
Players revolt against John Kuester? He's gone! Don't worry Lawrence Frank is here to restore order. Ben Gordon an expensive drain on the roster? Don't worry we've shipping him out to open up room for our young guys and speed up the rebuild. Don't worry, Moose, Frank couldn't win the respect of the locker room, but now we have a coach that understands players and spent money on talent upgrades Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings? Oh, that's not working, don't worry, we'll fire Cheeks after 50 games and install veteran Loyer. Oops.
Long story short, everything that the organization is telling him about Stan Van Gundy are the same things he heard about Kuester, Frank and Cheeks. Every talent upgrade was supposed to tip the scales back toward winning. And it didn't happen.
Maybe this time it will, but why would Monroe want to bet his next four productive NBA seasons on it right now? So, if SVG is finally the savior Pistons fans have been waiting for, and he can turn Detroit into a winning situation, with a young growing team at the onset of free agency, Monroe will have a difficult decision to make. Because the Pistons will still be able to offer the most money and most years of anyone in the NBA.
Maybe he won't return, but maybe he's taking a wait-and-see approach and banking on his health and ability to cash in next offseason just as easily as he could of this year.