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Greg Monroe: Pistons Have ‘Upper Hand’

Greg Monroe gave his strongest indication yet that the Pistons are in the mix to re-sign him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July, telling Terry Foster of The Detroit News that the Pistons have the “upper hand.” Monroe said before the season and after that he wouldn’t rule out re-signing with Detroit, and agent David Falk said shortly after the All-Star break that Monroe would “absolutely” consider staying in the Motor City.

“I have ties here; I have been here my whole [adult] life,” Monroe said to Foster. “[The Pistons] drafted me, so of course I am going to listen to them with the same ear as I listen to everybody else. They have the upper hand.”

It’s not at all uncommon for soon-to-be free agents to profess their desire to remain with their incumbent teams, but Monroe went out of his way to avoid a commitment to the Pistons in restricted free agency last summer, signing a qualifying offer that gave him slightly less than $5.48MM. That’s a sharply discounted rate for the productive 24-year-old big man, but Monroe and Falk reportedly discouraged teams from presenting more lucrative offer sheets that would have given the Pistons the chance to match and tie him up long-term.

Falk denied a recent report from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that Monroe’s departure for the Knicks this summer was “about as close to a done deal as you can get.” Monroe later expressed praise for Knicks president Phil Jackson while cautioning that he could see himself re-signing with the Pistons. The Lakers reportedly asked the Pistons about trading for Monroe before the deadline, and they and the Knicks figure to be among the many teams in pursuit. The Hawks were also reportedly planning to go after him as of early this season.

Monroe, No. 7 in our latest Free Agent Power Rankings, produced at a high rate once the Pistons waived Josh Smith in late December, as I examined when I looked in depth at Monroe’s free agent stock. The Pistons have a financial advantage, since they can offer five years and 7.5% raises instead of the four-year deal with 4.5% raises that other teams are limited to, but Monroe has already shown a willingness to make a financial sacrifice.

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