Greg Monroe traded financial security for the chance to choose his own destiny, signing a one-year qualifying offer that allows him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. So is this goodbye? Does Moose want out of Detroit so badly that he's willing to risk tens of millions of dollars to leave? It's easy to assume as much looking from the outside, but only Monroe knows for sure.
What we do know is that ever since Monroe was drafted, he's had an inside view at one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the entire league. In the last four years, Monroe went from being a franchise cornerstone at center to a franchise sidekick at power forward. And if that wasn't enough, last summer he quietly watched the front office hand the biggest contract in team history to someone who plays his new position.
Yes, Stan Van Gundy is here to save the day, with a promise from ownership that he'll bring long-needed stability to both the sideline and the front office. But it's one thing for fans to accept Tom Gores' promises at face value, and it's another for Monroe to commit the prime years of his career to a team that has never improved his entire time in Detroit and consistently taken him for granted.
Do I think Monroe should sign a long-term deal with the Pistons? Absolutely, but I understand his reluctance, as well as how satisfying it must feel to be completely in control of his future.
Even if the Pistons decide midseason they won't pursue Monroe next summer, they're stuck with him the entire year. Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQ explains the trade restrictions now placed on Monroe:
There are two additional circumstances in which a trade requires the player's consent:
When the player is playing under a one-year contract (excluding any option year) and will have Larry Bird or Early Bird rights at the end of the season. This includes first round draft picks following their fourth (option) season, who accept their team's qualifying offer for their fifth season. When the player consents to such a trade, his Larry Bird/Early Bird rights are not traded with him, and instead becomes a Non-Bird free agent.
For one year after exercising the right of first refusal to keep a restricted free agent. The player must consent to a trade to any team, although he cannot be traded to the team that signed him to the offer sheet.
The one thing that Monroe can't control is how he'll be used until he leaves. Until today, I considered Monroe a lock to start at power forward in 2014-15. But is that assumption true?
Van Gundy has already turned down deals for Smith, and if Van Gundy is given the impression that Monroe is counting down the days to bolt, why alienate the veteran who actually has several years left on his contract by making him come off the bench? If Smith agrees to play within the confines of SVG's system, I think the four spot is completely up for grabs. What about you?