The Lakers have asked the Pistons about Greg Monroe and Brandon Jennings in the past month, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link). They also inquired about Dion Waiters, Shelburne adds, presumably indicating that the Lakers contacted Cleveland before the Cavs shipped him to Oklahoma City a week ago.
Monroe has a de facto no-trade clause because he signed his qualifying offer from the Pistons this past offseason, and he and agent David Falk have let it be known they don’t want a trade this year. The big man would forfeit his Bird rights if he were to approve a trade, but the Lakers, with only about $35.1MM in cap flexibility for 2015/16, are set to have enough cap flexibility to sign him using cap space. The Lakers were reportedly uninterested in signing Monroe this past summer.
There have been conflicting reports about whether the Pistons were shopping Jennings, though the most recent dispatch indicates that Detroit is at least open to the idea of letting him go. Jennings makes $8MM this year and nearly $8.345MM in 2015/16, but his contract comes off the books in advance of the heavily anticipated summer of 2016, when the salary cap is set to surge. Monroe’s qualifying offer gives him almost $5.48MM this season, a bargain price, but he’s due for a significant raise in unrestricted free agency this coming summer.
Waiters is on a rookie scale contract and will be extension-eligible this summer before the deal runs out after next season. Still, it seems unlikely the Thunder would part with him so quickly after his acquisition. The Pistons, 8-1 since waiving Josh Smith, probably aren’t inclined to make a move right now, either, but the interest from the Lakers signals that L.A. isn’t content to languish at the bottom of the standings to protect its draft position. The team owes its first-round draft pick to the Suns if it doesn’t fall within the top five selections, and the Lakers are currently fourth in the Reverse Standings.