4:20pm: Monroe, whose buyout is now official, has spoken to both the Celtics and Pelicans and could make a decision within the next 24 hours, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. If it comes down to those two teams, Monroe would have to weigh an increased role in New Orleans vs. a greater chance to win a title in Boston.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate tweeted earlier today that the acquisition of Mirotic won’t adversely affect New Orleans’ pursuit of Monroe.
11:06am: The Pelicans have gathered “significant momentum” in their pursuit of Monroe and intend to make an aggressive play for him, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. According to Wojnarowski, Pels head coach Alvin Gentry has already spoken to Monroe, who could decide on his next NBA home as soon as Friday or Saturday. Playing time will be a big factor in the veteran’s decision, Woj adds.
10:43am: The Suns and Greg Monroe reached a buyout agreement on Wednesday, according to multiple reports. However, Monroe has not yet been formally waived by Phoenix. Once he’s cut, he’ll spend two days on waivers before becoming eligible to sign with a new team, so no club with interest in the veteran center will be able to add him right away.
Still, the list of potential suitors for Monroe is growing longer. As we relayed in our initial report on Monroe’s buyout, the Celtics and Pelicans are viewed as two viable potential destinations for the big man, with the Thunder cited as a possible dark horse. TNT’s David Aldridge adds a couple more teams to that list today, tweeting that the Spurs and Wizards also have interest in Monroe.
While there are a number of teams trying to get into the mix, the buzz around the Pelicans continues to be the loudest. According to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), there’s “strong” mutual interest between the Pels and Monroe, who is a New Orleans native. With DeMarcus Cousins out for the season due to an Achilles injury, major minutes are available in New Orleans’ frontcourt — not every suitor could necessarily offer Monroe that significant a role.
Although the Pelicans could pitch Monroe on regular minutes and the idea of a homecoming, they may find themselves at a disadvantage if other teams offer the 27-year-old more than the minimum salary. New Orleans has portions of its mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available, but is only about $1.2MM away from a hard cap, limiting the team’s ability to sweeten the pot for Monroe. By comparison, a club like the Celtics could offer up to $8.4MM, the value of their disabled player exception (though I’d be very surprised if they do so).
It’s also worth noting that the Pelicans’ reported pursuit of Nikola Mirotic could be affected by how things play out with Monroe — it’s not clear if the club would have interest in adding both players.