12:44pm: Van Gundy’s admiration of Monroe doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t sense the need to trade to trade him, Deveney contends (Twitter link).
12:03pm: Monroe may still wind up on another team, as a max offer from a rival suitor would make his future with Detroit a “dicey” proposition, Ellis tweets. Still, the Pistons don’t want him to simply walk away in free agency, Ellis also says, and that’s more in line with Deveney’s report, which indicates that Van Gundy will seek a sign-and-trade for Monroe.
11:54am: Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press contradicts Deveney’s story, having heard from a source who says Van Gundy is a major fan of Monroe’s and called him last night when he reached a deal to join the team (Twitter link).
10:35am: There’s “near certainty” among executives around the NBA that the Pistons’ hiring of Stan Van Gundy as coach and president of basketball operations signals that the team won’t bring back restricted free agent Greg Monroe, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. The Bobcats and Lakers are the teams that league executives believe are most likely to sign Monroe to maximum-salary offer sheets, and they think the Pelicans, in Monroe’s native Louisiana, will be one of the big man’s preferred destinations, according to Deveney.
Van Gundy will prioritize finding a sign-and-trade deal that will allow the Pistons to recoup assets in return for Monroe, Deveney writes. Van Gundy was ahead of the curve when he coached the Magic and used stretch forward Rashard Lewis as the big man next to Dwight Howard, as Deveney points out, and it seems as though he’ll seek to do so again in Detroit with Andre Drummond. The Pistons offense bogged down this season with Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith, none of whom are outside shooters, all clogging the lane.
The prospects for Monroe’s return to Detroit appeared questionable, at best, under former president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, who failed to come to an extension agreement with the David Falk client this past autumn. Falk generally opposes such extensions unless they’re for the max. The one-time super-agent connected Roy Hibbert with the Blazers, who were willing to make a max bid for him in 2012, prompting the Pacers to ink him at the same terms before Portland had a chance to snatch him away, as Deveney notes.
The Sporting News scribe also points to Falk’s ties to Charlotte owner Michael Jordan, whom he represented during his playing days. The soon-to-be Hornets have about $41.1MM in commitments, not counting their first-round pick or Josh McRoberts‘ player option, worth more than $2.77MM. Charlotte could also wind up with another first-round pick if the Pistons slip in next week’s lottery, but they’ll probably wind up with enough flexibility for Monroe’s max, worth approximately 25% of next season’s salary cap, as I explained earlier this week. Monroe would likely qualify for a first-year salary of up to $14-15MM.
The Lakers payroll for next season allows for plenty of flexibility, so fitting in a max offer for Monroe would pose no trouble. They’ll probably target more eye-catching names, like Carmelo Anthony, before proceeding to Monroe, Deveney writes, but Monroe is among their most attractive alternatives. He’s fifth in the latest edition of the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings.
The Pelicans seem like a less likely option, even given Monroe’s local ties, since they already have Anthony Davis and more than $54MM in commitments for next season, providing less than $10MM in cap flexibility. Pelicans GM Dell Demps has acknowledged that the summer ahead won’t give his team the chance to make a free agent push.
Pistons owner Tom Gores was reportedly torn on what to do about Monroe before the deal with Van Gundy came together, but it seems his hiring has crystallized the team’s plans regarding the 6’11” former seventh overall pick who’ll turn 24 in June. Now, Van Gundy faces a stiff challenge of his front office skills, as yet untested, as he seeks fair compensation in return for the rising star.