Feb 10, 2014, 10:07 PM EDT
Greg Monroe is going to be the name at the heart of a lot of trade rumors the next 10 days. The reason is this: Monroe is a restricted free agent this summer, the Pistons have three more years of Josh Smith at $12 million a year, and coming soon they are going to have to pay obvious max player Andre Drummond a lot of money. So Monroe appears the odd man out.
But it’s not that simple.
Detroit has a great asset in Monroe and they know it — he is quality offensive center who is scoring 14.3 points on 51.5 percent shooting plus grabs 8.7 rebounds a game. (Those numbers are down from last year but that is more about the mess that is the Pistons than Monroe). They are not going to just give him away — and they may match any max offers for him this summer.
For the moment, the Pistons remain adamant that the 23-year-old Monroe is a key part of their future, alongside second-year center Andre Drummond. But they opted not to give Monroe an extension before last October’s deadline, though they can match any other team’s offer he’ll receive next summer. The problem, as the Pistons knew last fall, is that Monroe’s agent is David Falk. He has gotten the price he said he’d get for his clients for two decades — and he says the price for Monroe will be a max contract….
Yet the Pistons aren’t going to move Monroe unless it’s a blockbuster deal. Offering just expiring contracts won’t get it done. The hope in Detroit is that Monroe’s situation is resolved in similar fashion to how Oklahoma City eventually worked out a four-year, $49 million contract with Serge Ibaka before he hit free agency…
If Falk finds a team ready to give Monroe the max or something close to it, expect Detroit to match the offer sheet and worry about the money later.
This doesn’t mean the Pistons are going to keep Monroe long-term — the Drummond, Monroe, Smith front line just doesn’t work (particularly on defense) and even if it did in a couple of years it’s going to be wildly expensive, once Monroe and Drummond get new deals.
However, the Pistons know they have a real asset, and they know you can’t just give that away. If they are going to go with Smith and Drummond ultimately up front, they are going to need to get real value back for Monroe if and when they move him.
How you get quality assets back in a trade you need to have” 1) something people want; 2) leverage.
The Pistons have number one locked up in Monroe. By not trading him and matching any offers, they get No. 2.
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