Best Potential Free-Agent Landing Spots for Greg Monroe During 2015 Offseason
Greg Monroe might not be with the Detroit Pistons too much longer.
As David Mayo of MLive.com reports, the big man hasn't yet informed his team he'll be accepting the qualifying offer, but that remains a distinct possibility:
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.
If he does sign that qualifying offer, he'll play the 2014-15 season in Motor City before hitting the market once more, this time as an unrestricted free agent. And if that's the case, it's highly unlikely he'd end up returning to Detroit, even if the Pistons would be capable of offering him more money than anyone else.
Again, it's worth noting that he's not yet guaranteed to become an unrestricted free agent. That's just a possibility, given the reports about that qualifying option.
At least he'll have plenty of strong choices if he does go down that often neglected route.
The Boston Celtics have struggled to find their big men of the future, but Monroe could fall right into their laps next offseason, especially with Brandon Bass and potentially Jeff Green, who has a player option, coming off the books.
While Jared Sullinger has looked promising, he's more of a natural power forward. And at center, Kelly Olynyk has struggled to transition from Gonzaga to the NBA, while Tyler Zeller's upside isn't all that significant.
Basically, it shouldn't be too surprising that Boston's big men struggled throughout the 2013-14 season. According to 82games.com, center was easily the team's weakest position:
|Position||PER||PER Against||Net PER|
Meanwhile, center was where Monroe thrived.
His net player efficiency rating was minus-2.9 when he played power forward, but that rose all the way to 3.4 when he lined up at the 5, which is obviously where he'd be playing for Boston. He'd greatly improve the defensive and offensive capabilities at the position, even if he's not exactly a standout defender.
Whether it's Rajon Rondo (who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer), Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart running the point in Beantown, all would mesh nicely with Monroe filling in the hole at the biggest spot in the lineup.
Los Angeles Lakers
This offseason, Monroe was viewed as a Plan B option for the Los Angeles Lakers, as Joel Brigham wrote for Basketball Insiders:
The Lakers need to set their sights higher, perhaps on pricing Detroit out of Greg Monroe, taking a shot at former Laker Trevor Ariza or gambling on Indiana’s Lance Stephenson. They don’t want to build a roster around Kobe these last two years that can’t even make the playoffs, let alone compete for a title. Getting Stephenson and/or Monroe, added to rookie Julius Randle and perhaps the other rumored additions mentioned above, is about the best L.A. can hope for if Carmelo and LeBron choose other teams, as expected.
This wasn't just speculation, either.
"If they are unable to land Anthony or James, the Lakers are also expected to have a strong interest in Washington free-agent forward Trevor Ariza, Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Detroit center Greg Monroe and Phoenix forward Channing Frye, according to sources," reported Ramona Shelburne for ESPN Los Angeles.
Plan B didn't happen for the Lakers, as their offseason was more of a Plan G than anything else, highlighted by acquiring Carlos Boozer off waivers, trading for Jeremy Lin and re-signing Jordan Hill. However, Plan B is still an option if Monroe does hit the open market once more.
He'll likely be another secondary choice for the Lake Show, but he's a fantastic fit with new head coach Byron Scott. A traditional big who thrives with his back to the basket and can pass well from the low and high blocks, Monroe would add a strong element to Scott's traditional stylings. He'd also give Kobe Bryant the offensive presence he needs in the paint.
Monroe won't be a primary target for L.A., not unless he figures out how to protect the rim at an elite level, but Hollywood is a great destination for the 24-year-old big man.
The Miami Heat may not have access to LeBron James any longer, but that doesn't mean they're just going to sit back and watch the rest of the Eastern Conference force them into the lottery.
Pat Riley already made that quite clear by inking Chris Bosh to a max deal, re-signing Dwyane Wade to a smaller contract and luring Luol Deng down to South Beach, forming a Big Three that's significantly less potent than the previous version but potent nonetheless.
Do we really think he's finished?
Chances are, Monroe would have to take a discount or force Detroit into a sign-and-trade agreement if he wanted to make his way to the Heat, but there's a distinct possibility he could do exactly that. Especially because he'd be allowed to play center, pushing Bosh back to his natural position at the 4. That would finally let Monroe play to his strengths once more.
Just imagine the offensive possibilities with two versatile and highly skilled bigs joining Wade and Deng. Erik Spoelstra could get quite creative again, even if he'd have to be innovative on defense to avoid too many rim-protecting woes.
At least Monroe would be a slight upgrade. According to NBA.com's SportVU databases, Monroe and Bosh both faced 7.1 shots per game at the rim last season, and it was the former who held opponents to a field-goal percentage that was 1.2 percent lower.
"Micky, Erik and I remain committed to doing whatever it takes to win and compete for championships for many years to come," Riley wrote in his official statement on NBA.com after LeBron's departure. "We've proven that we can do it and we'll do it again."
Bringing Monroe to town would be a great next step.
New York Knicks
Remember how the New York Knicks have been doing everything possible to prepare for the 2015 offseason?
Greg Monroe could be an unexpectedly excellent target, as he was supposed to be committed to another roster at the end of this current summer. If he inks that qualifying offer, though, there's one more possibility for Phil Jackson and the rest of the Madison Square Garden front office to consider.
Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Samuel Dalembert will all be coming off the books at the conclusion of the 2014-15 campaign, and that leaves a glaring hole in the frontcourt. Carmelo Anthony can't win games all by himself, and having a consistent interior presence would do wonders for him.
Let's not forget that one of the catalysts for the unexpected disaster last season was Tyson Chandler's injury- and regression-filled season. When he was a dominant defender and quality pick-and-roll presence, the Knicks were a bona fide playoff squad.
Monroe would have plenty of opportunities to thrive on the Knicks, and he'd also be playing in one of the sport's biggest markets. Even though he hasn't become a household personality, he'd receive so much more exposure under the bright lights of New York City.
Plus, the Knicks would be shaping things around him and the passing skills that would fit into the triangle offense so nicely. There aren't many key pieces under contract past the end of this upcoming season, which means he'd be viewed as a core member by Jackson.
San Antonio Spurs
It was surprising enough that Tim Duncan decided to come back for the San Antonio Spurs' title defense rather than retire as a champion. However, it would be downright shocking if he signed a new contract after the 2014-15 campaign, especially now that he has another ring and is set to play a season in which he'll turn 39.
Eventually, the Spurs will have to find a replacement, and it's hard to think of a better one than Monroe.
He's another traditional big man, a skilled and hardworking player who can play with his back to the basket, knock down a few jumpers and distribute the ball out to his teammates. Monroe isn't the game-changing defensive player that Duncan has been for so many years, but his offense is superb and would fit perfectly with Gregg Popovich and the rest of the San Antonio staff.
The Spurs have been so good at maximizing talent over the years, and Monroe has quite a bit of it. He and Kawhi Leonard could very well prove to be a championship core for the next decade, assuming the management continues to surround them—and Tony Parker, of course—with the right complementary pieces.
If Monroe is interested in becoming the best player he can be, there's no better option for him.