5 Best Potential Free-Agent Landing Spots for Greg Monroe During 2014 Offseason
From the looks of it, Greg Monroe's time with the Detroit Pistons may be coming to an end. Monroe will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and Detroit's hiring of new head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy will likely put an end to the big frontcourt that failed to produce positive results this year.
Here's Sean Deveney of The Sporting News with more:
Now, with Van Gundy in place on an eyebrow-raising contract—five years, $35 million—there is near certainty among league executives that Monroe has played his last game for Detroit.
The fact that Van Gundy opted for the Pistons over the other team in pursuit of him—the Warriors—offers some insight, one league general manager told Sporting News.
'There are two things that made that job better for Stan,' the GM said. 'One is the fact that he gets to make personnel decisions, that is a big deal of course. But the other is Andre Drummond. If you want to build your team around a young player, Drummond is the guy.
'You’re not going to build around both him and Monroe, they had too much trouble making that work. You pick Drummond and move on from Monroe.'
With Monroe likely to garner a max offer sheet from some team this offseason, it wouldn't be a surprise if Van Gundy and Monroe's agent, David Falk, worked together to find a suitable sign-and-trade deal for Monroe. That way, Monroe would be able to play for a team that might not have enough available cap space, while Detroit could get pieces in return for losing their young big man.
What teams will be interested in Monroe during restricted free agency or via a sign-and-trade deal? Let's take a look at five likely suitors.
New Orleans Pelicans
Could a return back home be in the cards? Greg Monroe was born in New Orleans, and the Pelicans could really use a young, reliable frontcourt player to pair with star forward Anthony Davis.
The thought of Monroe and Davis together is an interesting one. Monroe is a strong player who can defend bigger bodies and carve out space under the rim, while Davis can focus on altering shots and defending screens with his mobility.
Offensively this could work as well. Both Monroe and Davis can play out of either post, as both are smart players with good passing skills. This could be the new twin towers in the Western Conference.
The problem is, New Orleans lacks the cap space to try and sign Monroe outright and would need to negotiate a trade with the Pistons.
Luckily, New Orleans might have a great trade piece to use. Ryan Anderson is one of the league's premier stretch power forwards, and he had success under Van Gundy in Orlando. Given his injury troubles, he alone might not be enough to land Monroe, but it would seem like a good starting point for a deal at the very least.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers won't have the trade assets to contend with a few other teams who will try and land Monroe via sign-and-trade, but they will have cap space and a prime market to lure Monroe into signing an offer sheet.
It's hard to say if Monroe is really the guy the Lakers want to spend their cap space on, but getting a young franchise big man might not be a bad way to go, even if there are hopes that the 2015 offseason will bring a bigger star.
Although he's not the ideal defensive presence needed to anchor an aging backcourt, Monroe is a capable post scorer that would give the Lakers a secondary option beyond Kobe Bryant, which is pretty important at this stage in Bryant's career.
It's important that Monroe is also a very willing passer, so he could fit into a variety of offensive systems. The Lakers only have Robert Sacre on salary next season, so there's certainly a need for a big man.
If Van Gundy and the Pistons can't convince Monroe and his agent to work with a team who can offer Detroit assets, signing an offer sheet with a team like Los Angeles would put the pressure on to either match or let Monroe walk.
The Dallas Mavericks have long been in the pursuit for a franchise big man to pair with Dirk Nowitzki, and so it makes sense not to count the Mavericks out of this race for Monroe.
While a lot will depend on the size of the deal Nowitzki is re-signed to, the Mavericks could very easily have the max cap room needed to sign Monroe while keeping Nowitzki.
That's important, mainly because it doesn't seem like Dallas has a lot of assets that Detroit would want in a sign-and-trade deal.
Nowitzki and Monroe would certainly make for an interesting pairing. While there would be some challenges defensively, the Mavericks could be an offensive juggernaut and have a very difficult inside-out attack for teams to deal with. Rick Carlisle has shown that he can hide bad defensive players with a lot of creative scheming, so perhaps this could work.
With Monroe, Dallas would be able to compete for the last few seasons of Nowitzki's career and be set up nicely for the future.
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs likely wouldn't have the interest or the cap space to sign Monroe if Tim Duncan is still on the roster, but what if Duncan retires? That's not out of the realm of possibility by any means, especially if the Spurs win the title this season.
If Duncan leaves, you would have to think Manu Ginobili will retire as well. That would leave the Spurs with plenty of room to offer a free agent max money, and Monroe is young enough (he'll be 24 this offseason) to justify a big deal for the present with Tony Parker and the future.
Monroe seems to have the makeup of a typical Spurs player. He's unselfish, he's quiet and he's highly skilled. While filling Tim Duncan's shoes will be fun for no man, Monroe would be a pretty solid option to do it.
Keep an eye on this once the postseason ends. Monroe could easily pop up on San Antonio's radar if the right sequence of events takes place.
Greg Monroe might not be exactly what the Phoenix Suns need defensively, but adding a post presence offensively could make the Suns even more explosive than they already are.
Again, Monroe's youth and room for improvement might make him an appealing option to a team like the Suns that already has a young core in place with Goran Dragic and fellow restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe.
After Bledsoe re-signs, the Suns won't have the cap space for Monroe. Aside from that, though, they're a strong fit. There's a hole at center that Monroe could fill, and the Suns will have multiple draft picks this year and in the future in addition to a stretchy big man on an expiring contract in Channing Frye to offer Detroit. That might be the kind of package Van Gundy is looking for.
While multiple teams will be looking to acquire a potential franchise big man like Monroe, few will be in better shape than Phoenix to offer Detroit an attractive trade package in a sign-and-trade deal.