Updates from Friday, Sept. 5
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports Monroe has signed the Pistons' qualifying offer:
Detroit restricted free agent Greg Monroe has signed the qualifying offer, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) September 5, 2014
Monroe can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015. Detroit, Monroe couldn't agree on an extension.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) September 5, 2014
Updates from Wednesday, Aug. 13
Neither Greg Monroe nor his agent has told the Detroit Pistons of the player's plans to sign a qualifying offer and secure his unrestricted free agency next season, according to Stan Van Gundy, but a USA Today report that the big man intends to take that option could signal a short-term future for him with the team.
Stan Van Gundy's first big personnel move as Detroit Pistons head coach and president of basketball operations had long been expected to be deciding upon Greg Monroe's future with the franchise. Well, Monroe is reportedly taking the decision out of Van Gundy's hands.
The restricted free agent informed the Pistons Tuesday that he will accept their one-year, $5.479 million qualifying offer rather than accept a long-term deal, per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Monroe, 24, has played his first four seasons with the Pistons after being taken No. 7 overall in 2010.
His decision comes after more than a month of negotiations with the Pistons about a long-term contract. Long thought of as a nuclear option—Monroe is turning down tens of millions of dollars in guaranteed cash—it's also a bold power play by his agent, David Falk. By signing Detroit's offer sheet, Monroe can hit unrestricted free agency next summer. He will also have the power to veto any potential trade during the 2014-15 season.
The Pistons recently presented Monroe with "an offer that's slightly better on a per-year basis than the four-year, $54-million deal that Josh Smith signed last summer," per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Their previous offer was reportedly for five years and $60 million, though Monroe publicly denied those terms were correct:
Members of the Pistons organization have mostly been supportive, albeit couching their comments with disappointment that Monroe has not signed a new deal.
"Of course we would like him to do that, but the fact is Greg has to decide what's exactly right for him and he has great people representing him," owner Tom Gores told Ellis. "We'd like Greg to get on board, but he's got time to think about it and we should give him that time."
There was a perception around the league that the Pistons poisoned Monroe's well a bit. Fear that the team would match any offer sheet—up to and including the max—left potential suitors wary of mucking up their cap sheets with an onerous cap hold. Monroe instead found himself in a situation similar to Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, who remains without a contract.
Whether Monroe is making the prudent decision to leave an eight-figure payday on the table is up for interpretation.
Few question his offensive skill set. He's a beast on the low block, equipped with brilliant footwork and a series of fakes and counter-fakes that allow him to generate good looks near the rim. His polish was his calling card when he came into the league, and Monroe is slowly developing a mid-range game.
Monroe is pretty easily the best player ever to sign the qualifying offer, right?— Sean Highkin (@highkin) August 12, 2014
"I value Greg highly," Van Gundy told reporters at his introductory press conference. "I think he's one of the elite big men in the league. I think he's got a very high skill level. He can pass the ball, he can score in the low post and I want them to know that, that I value him highly."
Monroe's per-game stats have stagnated over the last three seasons, but that's not entirely his fault. Detroit's spacing was brutal for most of last season, with the coaching staff attempting wizardry in making a frontcourt of Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith work. None of those three can shoot reliably, and Monroe would likely benefit from an offense where he's the featured post player.
The positives mostly stop when discussing the other side of the ball, however. Monroe is largely a defensive minus, slow-footed on pick-and-rolls and lacking in consistent engagement. It did not help that Detroit was one of the league's poorest-coached teams from a schematic standpoint. The Pistons were at times an incomprehensive train wreck, defending at a bottom-10 level regardless of whether Monroe was on the floor, per NBA.com.
His one strength is on the block, where opposing bigs shot 34.4 percent against him last season, per Synergy Sports (subscription required). Get him in a scheme where his lack of lateral quickness can be hidden and push better team defense concepts, and Monroe might become garden variety below-average rather than a glaring minus.
The Monroe-Drummond frontcourt is promising and far more age-palatable than Drummond-Smith. But with the former Georgetown star taking his future into his own hands, it seems the Pistons overplayed their hand.
Even if Van Gundy fixes the foibles in Monroe's game, it's looking more likely than not that Monroe will jet for greener pastures next summer.
Or, at least adequately compensated ones.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.