The Hawks and Knicks are set to pursue Greg Monroe in free agency this coming summer, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. Over a dozen teams should have the necessary cap space to attract Monroe, who will almost assuredly be seeking a max contract, notes Charania. The Knicks see him as a secondary target if they can’t convince Marc Gasol to leave Memphis and come to New York, Charania adds, and landing Gasol is prospect they’re reportedly pessimistic about.
Monroe took the risky route this offseason when he signed Detroit’s one year qualifying offer after he and the team were unable to come to terms on a new long-term deal. The fact that Monroe spurned the Pistons’ attempts to lock him up for the long term and that he was willing to accept a salary of approximately $5.48MM for 2014/15, which is definitely below the market value for a player of Monroe’s talents, suggest that he has no intention of returning to Motown next season, Charania notes.
Monroe’s camp was also reportedly active in seeking sign-and-trade deals this past summer rather than attempting to secure offer sheets, with the fear that the Pistons would match and he would then be forced to stay in Detroit. Despite speculation that big-market teams like the Lakers and Celtics were pursuing Monroe, neither were an interested party when Monroe was seeking suitors, Charania’s sources told him. For their part, the Pistons rejected the proposed sign-and-trade offers, and they instead decided to take their chances that new president of basketball operations and head coach Stan Van Gundy could convince Monroe during the course of the season that Detroit was indeed a desirable place for him to continue his playing career.
The Knicks’ interest in Monroe furthers the notion that New York is focused on adding a center via free agency next summer. Monroe is the No. 4 player on the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings, and he’s the third-ranked center behind Gasol and Al Jefferson, who holds a $13.5MM player option for the 2015/16 season. The Knicks certainly will have enough cap flexibility to offer Monroe a maximum-salary deal, with roughly $25.9MM to spend. I do question how well Monroe would fit into the triangle offense that New York is transitioning to, since he is not known as a willing and competent passer, something that is required of big men in that system.
As for the Hawks, Monroe would be a curious fit alongside Al Horford and Paul Millsap and could find himself in a situation similar to the one he is now in with Detroit, where the Pistons’ experiment with an oversized frontcourt has not worked out well for any involved. Millsap is set for unrestricted free agency this coming summer, too, so Atlanta’s interest in Monroe could portend that the Hawks are either not confident in re-signing Millsap, or that they would prefer to add Monroe to their squad instead. Atlanta is expected to have more than $24MM in cap flexibility available next summer.