Few teams want to make changes to their rosters at this late stage of the offseason. Unfortunately, a few organizations still have to settle some problems.
With key players still negotiating contracts, others contemplating their NBA futures and squads deciding how to handle the upcoming year, there is a lot left to be accomplished before the start of the regular season.
These are the top NBA stories to follow over the course of the next few weeks before players take the court.
Greg Monroe Settling for Qualifying Offer
When top players are restricted free agents in the NBA, we usually see one of two outcomes: Either the organization locks the star up long-term with a contract extension, or the player signs an offer sheet with another team, which results in either a matched contract or letting him go.
However, the Greg Monroe saga has followed neither path. Instead, the Detroit Pistons have scared away any team from pursuing him while still failing to re-sign their own guy.
As a result, the center appears headed to take the final route for a restricted free agent, as described by Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
Forward-center Greg Monroe has informed the Detroit Pistons' he will accept the qualifying offer, play for Detroit in 2014-15 and become an unrestricted free agent next summer, two people familiar with Monroe's plan told USA TODAY Sports. ...
Monroe's qualifying offer is for $5.479 million in 2014-15 and cannot be traded without his consent once he signs. He's expected to sign it before the Oct. 1 deadline.
Not only is this a risky move for a player worth more on the open market, but the team is not happy about the situation either. Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News notes the franchise will hold out to make some sort of deal:
It appears the #Pistons are holding out hope that Monroe won't take the Q/O until he actually signs it...11th hour hope— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) August 13, 2014
The #Pistons have intimated they're not letting him walk for nothing, so whatever a team offered, you can believe the Pistons would match— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) August 13, 2014
The problem with the current situation is that Monroe does not fit with the Pistons. Even though he averaged 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds last season, there seems to be no room in the frontcourt with Andre Drummond and Josh Smith in the lineup.
Jared Greenberg of NBATV believes this tactic could help force Stan Van Gundy to deal Smith to create room on the roster:
Barring injury, brilliant move by Greg Monroe. Gives SVG a year to move Josh Smith before he becomes a top 5 UFA next summer— Jared Greenberg (@NBATVJared) August 13, 2014
On the other hand, Monroe might be better off simply waiting until next year before cashing in on a large contract with any team he chooses. Still, it would not be ideal for the Pistons to let a high-quality player leave for nothing.
This seems to leave only one option to make everyone happy, and that is to trade Monroe to a team in need. Look for this to happen before the start of the season to give everyone what they are looking for in this scenario.
Eric Bledsoe Following Monroe's Path
Similar to Monroe, Eric Bledsoe is another restricted free agent who has been unable to work out a deal with his own team. This could lead to him taking a similar path to that of the Pistons' center.
According to Zillgitt, the Phoenix Suns point guard "strongly is considering signing the Suns' qualifying offer for $3.726 million."
The difference in this scenario is the Suns have offered a deal of four years for $48 million, although Bledsoe and his agent are hoping for a max contract worth $84 million over five years, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN the Magazine.
Paul Coro of AZ Central Sports notes that the two sides are very far apart. When asked about these reports, team owner Robert Sarver said:
Maybe that's just posturing and negotiating. We haven't heard from the guy in four months, so I couldn't tell you. I do know that when he played here, he felt good about the organization, his coaching staff and his teammates at the end of the season. We had the same feelings toward him.
Not speaking in four months during prime negotiating season is not a good sign for anyone.
With Bledsoe now leaning toward signing a qualifying offer, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post provides an alternative for the Suns:
If Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe are truly willing to sign QO's, you would think Pistons and Suns would be willing to do S&Ts instead.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) August 12, 2014
Phoenix added scoring point guard Isaiah Thomas this offseason and still have Goran Dragic, who is capable of making plays in the backcourt. While losing Bledsoe is not ideal, the team can survive the loss, especially if they can get quality players in return for a trade.
On the other hand, there are plenty of teams who would love to bring in a player who averaged 19.4 points and six assists per game this past season. This could make a trade the best-case scenario for everyone.
Pacers Making Significant Roster Moves?
The fate of the Indiana Pacers changed significantly when Paul George broke his leg in a scrimmage with Team USA. While the team is expecting a full recovery, it admits that will not happen in the upcoming season, according to Michael Marot of the Associated Press (via Yahoo Sports).
Obviously, this is a devastating blow to the Pacers' chances of winning a title. In reality, it will be difficult for the remaining team to even qualify for the playoffs.
Indiana is now put in a rare situation where it might even be a good idea to trade away veterans in an effort to "tank" this season before coming back strong with George and some top prospect.
It sounds like they’re working the phones and trying to make some trades. There were reports that they offered Roy Hibbert and Chris Copeland to the Suns for Goran Dragic and that they offered Hibbert to the Pistons for Greg Monroe. It sounds like they’re weighing all of their options and gauging interest in their players. The problem is that Hibbert doesn’t have much trade value after the way he disappeared in the second half of last season and the playoffs.
On the other hand, Michael Pointer of the Indy Star believes no deal that would hurt the team will go down:
[President Larry] Bird and [head coach Frank] Vogel both made it clear the Pacers aren't going to "tank" the season in order to secure a high draft choice in 2015. In other words, don't look for David West or Roy Hibbert or George Hill to be dealt anytime soon.
The Pacers have even made an effort to sign Shawn Marion, although this does not seem likely, according to ESPN's Marc Stein:
Indy IS trying to wedge its way into contention for Shawn Marion and Larry Bird did meet Monday with Marion, but Cavs remain in lead for now— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 12, 2014
Still, the attempt shows the organization is still hoping to win games. While this might be a down year, most of the stars should be back in 2015-16 to make the Pacers a top contender for a title once again.
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