Best Potential Landing Spots for 2014 Restricted Free Agent Greg Monroe

D.J. FosterContributor IJuly 17, 2014

Best Potential Landing Spots for 2014 Restricted Free Agent Greg Monroe

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    Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe is in a difficult spot. As a restricted free agent, he’s no doubt looking for a big offer sheet to sign. The market for his services, though, might not be as robust as he had hoped. Without the ability to block shots or shoot from range, Monroe’s skill set isn’t exactly in style right now.

    That doesn’t mean he’s not an incredibly valuable player, it’s just that finding a fit may be tough. There’s also the issue that teams might believe Detroit will match any reasonable offer, despite its frontcourt logjam with Josh Smith and Andre Drummond.

    The Pistons may be taking steps to remedy that, though. Here’s Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

    The Detroit Pistons and the Sacramento Kings have resumed trade discussions on a deal that could send Josh Smith to Sacramento, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

    Sources told ESPN.com the Kings have continued to express interest in Smith and the parties are on the hunt for a third team that could help facilitate the deal.

    Basically, it’s a waiting game right now for Monroe. He needs to find a team he wants to spend the next four years with, and that team has to be willing to put up a huge offer for him. He also has to decide how badly he wants out of Detroit, if at all.

    Here's what Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy told David Mayo of MLive.com:

    “The nervousness is just the unknown. It’s not knowing, beyond this year, especially, where you’re going. But again, we have plenty of time, if something happened, to adjust for next year and everything else.”

    Let’s take a look at some of the potential sign-and-trade landing spots for Greg Monroe.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Here's David Mayo of MLive.com explaining why Monroe's restricted free agency is a delicate situation:

    Asked if he has a timeline for finishing Monroe's business, Van Gundy somewhat ominously noted that the timeline is built into the process, citing the October deadline for Monroe to sign a qualifying offer.

    If Monroe chooses that route, he would play for less than $5.5 million next season but become an unrestricted free agent in summer of 2015.

    The Pistons have discussed a long-term contract with Monroe worth in the range of $12 million annually but the sides haven't agreed. Monroe also hasn't signed an offer sheet with another team, which the Pistons would have three days to match, or they would lose him without compensation.

    The stakes are high for both sides.

    What might satisfy both teams as the clock ticks down is a sign-and-trade deal to a contender. 

    You’d certainly think the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to upgrade their frontcourt, as Tristan Thompson hasn’t proved to be a NBA-level starter, and Anderson Varejao always seems to be banged up. Addressing the talent and depth in the frontcourt is probably their first priority.

    If the Cavaliers can’t secure a more “stretchy” frontcourt option, a traditional big like Monroe would still be a huge talent upgrade. It would be interesting to see how LeBron James and Kyrie Irving would function with a legitimate post talent, but Monroe can run the pick-and-roll pretty well in addition to that.

    Unlike most teams, Cleveland has both the assets and the need to acquire Monroe. With players like Thompson, Dion Waiters and draft picks, the Cavs could negotiate a sign-and-trade deal with Detroit that gives them a younger base core of talent to work around with Andre Drummond and company.

    Again, there are probably better fits than Monroe out there for Cleveland to pursue (like Kevin Love), but landing next to LeBron James is just about the best possible thing Monroe could hope for. He’d help make him great.  

Boston Celtics

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    The Boston Celtics really need a rim protector, but that’s not Greg Monroe. Still, it’s hard to ignore the lack of size and production in the frontcourt, and Monroe might be more of a talent grab than anything else.

    The issue here is that the Celtics would forfeit their future cap space, but pairing Rajon Rondo with a smart player like Monroe could make for beautiful music offensively.

    Again, Monroe would have to be available at a discount, and sign-and-trades allow for that sort of thing. Boston could offer up a good frontcourt shooter like Jeff Green to help match salaries, which would help Detroit with its floor spacing at the very least.

    Boston also has a cupboard stocked full of first- and second-round draft picks for the future, so sacrificing one or two for a player of Monroe’s caliber might not be viewed as a huge price like it would be for other teams who need to hoard those assets.

    This would all likely depend on Boston’s evaluation of Monroe and how bad the need is for a reliable starting 5. Monroe certainly has talent and room to grow, and that potential should be appealing to a relatively young team playing for the future.

Denver Nuggets

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    Maybe it’s time to cash in on some of that depth. The Denver Nuggets are legitimately two deep at each position, but with limited star talent, it’s hard to see what the direction should be going forward.

    Denver has a lot of big salaries like Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler it could probably stand to move that might appeal to Detroit because of their ability to space the floor at the 3 or a small 4. Kenneth Faried is a desirable asset to deal as well.

    Monroe might be a strange fit, but he’d provide Denver with a real half-court option offensively and a guy who can start the fast break with his rebounding. His ability to pass from the high post would allow him to play in big frontcourts with JaVale McGee potentially, or he could simply take over as the starting 5 and make McGee expendable.

    The Nuggets could certainly use someone who has proved to be durable and reliable in the frontcourt, and Monroe’s potential should appeal to a team that looks capped.

    If the Nuggets have a ceiling of an No. 8 seed, and it certainly looks that way in a tough Western Conference, making a move on someone like Monroe makes sense.   

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The Oklahoma City Thunder usually don't make big splashes, instead opting to keep their chemistry intact.

    We’ve been speculating about upgrades over Kendrick Perkins for quite some time now, but Monroe would be an interesting option at the right price.

    That’s probably the biggest obstacle here, as paying Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Greg Monroe without exceeding the luxury tax would take some serious cap gymnastics. It’s interesting to think about how the fit would be, though, as Monroe would elevate the Thunder to serious favorite to emerge from the Western Conference.

    A package of Perkins’ expiring deal, a future draft pick and a shooter like Jeremy Lamb might be enough to get it done, but Monroe would have to be willing to take a serious pay cut in order to make this work.

    That might not be ideal for him, but again, aligning yourself with other superstar players and contending for titles throughout the life of your contract does have its appeal.

    Monroe would make an already explosive offense spectacular, as his passing and scoring would be welcome at a position where OKC has punted those areas for quite some time. Serge Ibaka is the perfect frontcourt mate for him because he can stretch the floor and block shots.

    This is a dream scenario because of the money and Oklahoma City’s habits, but this would be a really interesting landing spot.

Toronto Raptors

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    This probably doesn’t make any sense if the Toronto Raptors view Monroe as a 5 solely, which would make sense given his lack of shooting ability and general mobility.

    Still, it’s fun to think about the Raptors going the opposite direction of the league-wide trend and forming a massive frontcourt with Monroe and Jonas Valanciunas together, isn’t it?

    While the spacing would certainly be limited, Monroe could remove some pressure off Kyle Lowry by giving the Raptors another starter. Amir Johnson might be a better fit in Detroit, and since he’s on an expiring contract, he might be coveted by the Pistons.

    For Monroe, the prospect of joining another frontcourt where the paint is crowded probably isn’t ideal, making this a real long shot. While Terrence Ross can certainly spread the floor at the 3 better than Josh Smith, there would be challenges here, especially since DeMar DeRozan likes to work out of the post himself.

    This isn’t a great fit, but Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has a habit of getting the better end of trades and grabbing valuable assets. Monroe qualifies as that, and maybe he wants out of Detroit badly enough to go anywhere else.