After Lance Stephenson signed with the Charlotte Hornets and Paul George broke his leg, the Indiana Pacers are in desperate need of some good news. Perhaps it could come in the form of Greg Monroe?
Matt Dery of New Detroit Sports 105.1 provided an interesting rumor recently regarding Monroe, the Pacers and Roy Hibbert:
It is important to point out that Dery doesn’t suggest that a Hibbert-for-Monroe swap is in the works, so let’s not jump to any conclusions. However, if that did materialize, it would prove much better from Indiana’s perspective than Detroit’s.
First off, let’s just look at the numbers. Hibbert will be 28 years old in December and averaged 10.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks a night last year behind 43.9 percent shooting from the field. In the playoffs, his points, rebounding and blocks totals dipped to 9.3, 5.5 and 1.4, respectively.
Outside of the realization that the 7’2” Hibbert was outrebounded by Indiana’s shooting guard Stephenson last year, his postseason struggles were well-documented. The Pacers went from potential Heat beaters to a No. 1 seed that barely snuck past the Atlanta Hawks in the process.
Monroe will be 24 years old the entire 2014-15 season and posted nightly averages of 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds behind 49.7 percent shooting from the field last year.
The age alone would tilt the pendulum Indiana’s favor in this hypothetical, but Monroe is already the more productive player. At 24, Monroe still has plenty of years remaining in his prime, while the wear and tear on Hibbert’s 7’2” body could very well have contributed to his struggles down the stretch.
Plus, the Pacers aren’t exactly going to contend for a title this year without George. Monroe is much more likely to be in his prime and a contributor the next time Indiana is ready to contend than the veteran Hibbert.
What’s more, playing Monroe with David West in the immediate future could theoretically work because West can spread the floor with his mid-range jumper. It would give Monroe some room to operate down low and improve his chances of becoming a legitimate force on the block.
Perhaps the chance to play with George and work on his low-post production would be enough to convince Monroe to play in Indiana for the foreseeable future.
From Detroit’s point of view, there is one positive to this potential swap. It would actually get something in return for Monroe, because if Vince Ellis’ report in the Detroit Free Press is any indication, talks aren’t going particularly well:
Here we are less than two months away from the start of training camp and despite a full-court sales pitch, Monroe hasn’t signed his name to a contract…It’s no secret that Monroe wouldn’t mind a change of scenery and wants a max contract.
Teams around the league just don’t view Monroe as worthy of a max offer sheet—especially with the perceived notion that the Pistons would just match.
Still, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense basketball-wise.
Andre Drummond, who is only 21 years old, is already the franchise center for the Pistons and ideally a building block for years to come. Adding Hibbert would mean the team has two players who primarily occupy space right in front of the rim, which would constrict the floor for the young Drummond.
Plus, cutting into some of Drummond’s minutes this season with Hibbert doesn’t seem like the best way to maximize Drummond’s long-term potential.
For his part, Drummond seems to enjoy playing with Monroe, via Matt Moore of CBS Sports:
Greg knows what it is. I've told him multiple times that he needs to come on home.
I need him there, and all the guys would love to have him back as well. At the end of the day, he's got to do what's best for him and his family.
I still have high hopes, and I'm pretty sure he is coming home, so I'm excited for this season.
Remember, this is only a rumor and is hypothetical at this point, but the Pacers would be getting a potential All-Star back for someone who was heavily criticized and became something of an NBA punch line at the end of the year. Everything would favor Indiana in this trade, including age, production, potential and on-court fit with the current roster.
Unfortunately for the Pacers, Detroit probably knows this is the case.
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