Why Greg Monroe Sign-and-Trade Could Be Win-Win for Both Sides

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Why Greg Monroe Sign-and-Trade Could Be Win-Win for Both Sides
USA TODAY Sports

Last resorts are rarely appealing, which is why the Detroit Pistons might balk at the mutually beneficial idea of moving Greg Monroe in a sign-and-trade deal.

But if the Pistons could come to terms with the obvious mistakes they've made, they could put together a sign-and-trade exchange that would transform the franchise and allow Monroe to flourish in a better environment.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Monroe is drawing interest from a handful of teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers:

We're in preliminary territory here, but if teams like the Blazers want to talk deals, the Pistons would be crazy not to listen.

The Pistons' lack of roster balance is glaring, an affliction that has plagued them since signing Josh Smith last summer. At the time, the inescapable refrain condemning the move focused on the lack of floor-spacing Smith would create.

Lo and behold, that's precisely how it worked out. The Pistons ranked 29th in the league with a three-point accuracy rate of just 32.1 percent in 2013-14.

In order to unjam the clogged offense created by adding Smith to a frontcourt that already featured Monroe and Andre Drummond, the Pistons must consider the painful possibility of parting with their four-year veteran.

Even considering that option has to hurt a little.

Monroe is talented, a consistent offensive player who has value that might even justify the max offers he's likely to receive as a restricted free agent.

The need for shooting on the wings is more pressing, though, as evidenced by the drastic overpayment Detroit made in agreeing with Jodie Meeks on a three-year, $19 million contract.

Monroe is the Pistons' best movable asset, which means he'll be the man to go.

In a perfect world, Smith would be the one packing his bags. In his first year with Detroit, J-Smoove showed no signs of cutting back on his cringe-inducing jumpers, and Stein notes we've already seen new head honcho Stan Van Gundy explore trade options to jettison the stubborn forward:

So far, nobody's biting.

In addition, Detroit's across-the-board frontcourt struggles last season didn't necessarily stem from pairing Smith and Monroe. In fact, it was the Monroe-Drummond tandem that was particularly awful.

According to NBA.com, when Monroe and Drummond shared the floor, the Pistons surrendered an unfathomably bad 110.2 points per 100 possessions. When Monroe was on the court without Drummond, Detroit's defensive rating improved dramatically to 104.0.

In contrast, Monroe and Smith didn't have much of an impact on each other in either direction. Detroit was equally substandard with them on the floor together or with one sitting.

Dan Lippitt/Getty Images

So, even if Monroe's camp laid out an ultimatum directing the Pistons to get rid of Smith, per Grantland's Zach Lowe, the truth is Monroe and Drummond are the untenable combo.

When you think about it, it's not all that surprising that Monroe and Drummond can't play together. Monroe has never been a good defender, limited in lateral quickness as he is. Drummond, for his part, has no idea what he's doing the vast majority of the time he's on the floor.

Defensive rotations? Forget it.

Helping the helper? Nope.

Drummond is young, and he should develop his instincts with time. However, that could take years. In the interim, the Pistons will give up a torrential gush of points with him and Monroe on the court together.

John Raoux/Associated Press

Since trading Smith is likely to prove too difficult and Drummond has already been anointed as the franchise cornerstone, it's Monroe who must go for Detroit to get better.

A change of scenery would do Monroe some good, too.

He could help another team that already has a more mobile 4 or a defensively stout 5. Chances are Monroe will always have to hide on defense, but it's hard to think of a worse place for him to do that than Detroit.

Offensively, Monroe's time with the Pistons deflated the perception of what he can do.

He struggled to find good shots last year against packed-in defenses begging him to kick the ball out to shooters who, frankly, weren't threats.

With no space or reliable outlets, Monroe shot under 50 percent for the second year in a row in 2013-14 after converting at least 52 percent of his shots in his first two years in the league.

We also didn't get to see one of Monroe's most valuable skills: his passing.

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

As recently as 2012-13, Monroe handed out 3.5 assists per game. Coming out of Georgetown, his ability to facilitate from the elbows and the block made him a potential offensive focal point. He's not Joakim Noah or Marc Gasol in that regardwho is?but he could be darn close in the right situation.

Get Monroe on a team with a few shooters, and watch as he rediscovers that passing dimension—to the delight of fans in his new locale.

It's trite to say the Pistons must "Free Monroe," but it's also hard to ignore how he's been so obviously trapped—especially last season.

Executing a sign-and-trade would be tricky, but the framework of a speculative deal suggested by David MacKay of Rip City Project that would bring Nicolas Batum back to Detroit as the principal asset is very appealing.

Losing Monroe would hurt the Pistons, but Van Gundy's comments on the situation indicate it's a pain they're ready to bear. "If we make a trade, we're going to get something we like, or we will not make a trade. (We) either want him back or we want good value for him," he told David Mayo of MLive.com.

The Pistons painted themselves into this corner, and getting out won't be easy. Nevertheless, moving Monroe is the best option for all parties involved.

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