NBA Rumors: Cleveland Cavaliers Reportedly Interested in Greg Monroe Trade

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2017

Milwaukee, WI - OCTOBER 26: Greg Monroe #15 of the Milwaukee Bucks stretches prior to the game against the Boston Celtics on October 26, 2017 at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The three-time defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled out of the gates in the 2017-18 campaign, but they are reportedly interested in adding help.

According to Sam Amico of Amico Hoops, Cleveland has "strong interest" in center Greg Monroe and is "exploring ways to obtain" him.

Monroe is a member of the Phoenix Suns after they acquired him from the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eric Bledsoe trade. Amico noted the Suns are attempting to move the big man "either via trade or contract buyout," but Cleveland "would need to get creative" if it was to land him considering it has 15 players under contract on the roster.

Monroe would provide an offensive boost, but the Cavaliers are also in need of additional depth down low for the time being because Tristan Thompson is out multiple weeks with a calf injury. They are attempting to dig out of an early hole at 6-7, which is all the more difficult without one of their primary frontcourt pieces.

There is still plenty of time in the season for Cleveland to make up for its lackluster start, but the red-hot Boston Celtics have won 12 straight games and are in the midst of creating separation in the race for the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage for a potential Eastern Conference Finals rematch.

Amico offered a solution to the team's current woes—trade Thompson for Monroe.

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He noted the swap would work under the salary cap without requiring any other pieces and suggested "LeBron could do for Monroe what LeBron has done for Thompson—and that would be to make Monroe seem better than he is, a big man who suddenly becomes more effective playing next to a star like James."

Adding Monroe would provide assistance for basketball reasons, especially while Thompson is out, but it could also create more financial flexibility during the upcoming offseason.

Monroe is playing with an expiring contract and making approximately $17.8 million this season, per Spotrac. Thompson's 2017-18 salary is similar at $16.4 million, per Spotrac, but he is under contract for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons as well.

The expiring contract would give the Cavaliers more flexibility should they be in dire need of additional players if James chooses to leave with a player option for next season remaining on his contract.

While the storyline of James' future still hovers over the team, Cleveland is a title contender in 2017-18 and would need a better performance from Monroe than the 6.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game he posted in five contests with the Bucks this season.

To be fair, he largely fell out of Milwaukee's rotation at 15.8 minutes a night, and playing with the Cavaliers would give him an opportunity to see additional time on the court and attempt to reestablish himself as an offensive force in the paint.

He averaged more than 15.0 points per game five straight seasons from 2011-12 through 2015-16 with the Detroit Pistons and Bucks. He also posted more than 9.0 rebounds a night in his last four seasons with Detroit.

Monroe is just 27 years old and not past his prime, which suggests finding that old form should not be impossible after a change of scenery. He also has some playoff experience on his resume and averaged 13.2 points and 7.3 rebounds a night in six games.

Adding someone like that could help the Cavaliers as they attempt to rectify their slow start and play toward a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals.