DETROIT - It was 11:58 p.m., the night before NBA free agency opened, minutes before Twitter would turn into a storm of offers and rumors. But even before then, various reports indicated that several teams had interest in Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe, who is a restricted free agent.
As midnight struck, Monroe struck out. No offers, no deals, only a qualifying offer from the Pistons, a team he'd prefer to abandon. For over a month now, not one team has made an offer to Greg Monroe. Rumors of sign-and-trade deals with the Suns, Hawks and Blazers, all amounting to nothing. What gives?
Monroe, a 24-year-old double-double machine is probably attempting to hold out for a max deal -- but he won't get it. Grantland's Zach Lowe with his take:
The evolving market for big men makes the free agency of Greg Monroe so interesting. Monroe doesn't quite fit the archetype, since he has played significant minutes at center and managed well in that time. But he's ground-bound on defense, and his midrange jumper has fallen well behind Griffin's. He has a strong post game and smart passing vision, so he has two-thirds of the trifecta of skills Griffin uses to make up for his limitations; Monroe is missing only the pick-and-roll explosion, something Andre Drummond brings in spades.
But that missing element matters. Monroe is a tricky player around which to build. An ideal roster would surround him with at least one big man who can both shoot from range and protect the basket, and there are maybe a half-dozen guys who can do both of those things at an elite level. They are expensive and very hard to get.
Monroe also needs the ball to maximize the things he does well. He is like a younger and lesser Al Jefferson — not as good a post player, and not quite as bulky and physical battling opposing centers down low. But Jefferson has been a part of some very good offensive teams, and he appears to have found a healthy environment on both sides of the floor in Charlotte.
At this point, it seems like the Pistons have dug their feet in, and a sign-and-trade is the only way they'll part with Monroe. Otherwise, being a restricted free agent, Monroe could sign a one-year-deal, and leave the Pistons next year without Detroit getting anything in return. The ball seems to be in Monroe's court now -- should he sign a one-year deal, or accept the long term deal, even though it's less than he's looking for?
The best move for the Pistons would be to break up the "big 3" front court of Monroe, Drummond and Smith. It won't work. So, what's the best option?
1) Andre Drummond is going nowhere.
2) Josh Smith has a horrendous contract and an even worse 3-point shooting percentage.
3) Greg Monroe is a restricted free agent, which would be useful, if someone else wanted to sign him.
Best case scenario, the Pistons find a way to trade Monroe, and get some scoring back in return. There's one constant in all of this drama -- Joe Dumars. Damn you, Joe!
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