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Eastern Rumors: Monroe, Gooden, Celtics

Greg Monroe becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer and Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is eager to see how Monroe blends with point guard Reggie Jackson and center Andre Drummond before the season ends, David Mayo of reports. Monroe is expected to return Wednesday for the team’s five remaining games after missing 11 games with a right knee strain. Jackson has appeared more comfortable playing with Drummond and Anthony Tolliver, a power forward who shoots 3-pointers, rather than a low-post player in Monroe, Mayo continues. “Reggie will have to adjust, and I’ll have to adjust, and we’ll have to figure it out,” Van Gundy said to Detroit beat reporters. “We’ve seen Reggie play real, real, well; we’ve seen Greg play real, real well. So we’ve just got to make it all fit together.” Evaluating how that alignment works in conjunction with Monroe’s impending free agency is the biggest goal the Pistons have in their remaining games, Mayo concludes.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Veteran power forward Drew Gooden, whose contract expires after the season, has become an important rotation player for the Wizards, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. Gooden has received more playing time with the team trying to rest Nene Hilario for the postseason. His ability to make 3-pointers has given more space for guards John Wall and Bradley Beal to operate, Castillo continues.  “It opens avenues for John to penetrate, for Bradley to put the ball on the floor, for our wings to put it on the floor,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said to Castillo. “That’s really big.” Not only has Gooden played himself into an important postseason role, as Castillo adds, it could also enhance his chances of remaining with Washington.
  • Celtics rookie forward James Young has been productive during his stint with the franchise’s D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, and remains in the Celtics’ future plans, A. Sherrod Blakely of reports. The No. 17 overall pick in last year’s draft is averaging 21.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17 games with the Red Claws. Young’s development was hampered by a car accident prior to the draft that prevented him from playing on the Celtics’ summer league team, Blakely continues. Young lost his rotation spot to Luigi Datome after a deadline trade with the Pistons but the organization has kept a close watch on Young after sending him to the D League, Blakely adds. “Our front office is watching him with every opportunity,” Boston coach Brad Stevens told local reporters. “The progress is good.”

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