Greg Monroe

Latest On Carmelo Anthony

For much of the summer, after 2017’s top free agents came off the board, we waited for resolution on two notable trade candidates, Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony. The Irving saga finally came to an end last week when the Celtics and Cavaliers finalized their blockbuster deal involving the All-Star guard. However, Anthony remains on the Knicks‘ roster, with no recent updates on where things stand with those trade talks.

Ian Begley of ESPN.com has a piece up today rounding up all the latest notes on the Anthony situation, so let’s dive in and pass along the highlights…

  • As of last week, the Knicks were “not close” on an Anthony deal. According to Begley, the Knicks have been telling people around the league that the Rockets – Anthony’s trade partner of choice – just don’t have pieces that appeal to them.
  • The Bucks emerged at one point as a potential third team to help accommodate a Rockets/Knicks swap, says Begley. However, Milwaukee has been trying to shed salary, so the prospect of taking on Ryan Anderson and the $60MM left on his contract likely isn’t much more appealing to the Bucks than it is to the Knicks.
  • In those “very preliminary” talks, Jabari Parker‘s name came up, though it’s not clear if the Bucks or Knicks introduced that idea, Begley writes. In that proposed scenario, Parker would have been part of a larger package that included at least one player on a big contract, such as John Henson or Greg Monroe.
  • Begley notes that the Knicks want to land a combination of a young player, a draft pick, and/or an expiring contract in an Anthony trade, so the idea of landing Parker and Monroe probably appealed more to New York than Milwaukee.
  • Although a trade seems unlikely to happen before the start of training camp, there has been little contact lately between Carmelo and members of the Knicks‘ organization, sources tell Begley. As the ESPN scribe notes, neither side appears to have much interest in having Anthony on the roster to start the season, but the Knicks’ front office remains unwilling to consider a buyout, so it will be interesting to see how the next several weeks play out.

Central Notes: Giannis, Bucks, Cavs, Rose, Pistons

The Bucks should still have at least a couple years before they have to start worrying about Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s long-term future in Milwaukee, considering the young star hasn’t even played one game on his new four-year contract with the franchise. Still, recent comments made by Antetokounmpo may stir up a little premature anxiety among Bucks fans.

As Michael D. Sykes of SBNation details, Antetokounmpo was asked recently by a fan about Kevin Durant‘s departure from Oklahoma City, and whether the Bucks star would avoid a similar situation a few years from now.

“A lot of people say they’re going to stay on a team and decide to move to a different team,” the Bucks forward said. “But you guys got to remember: A guy might want to stay on a team, but if the team doesn’t do the right things and the right moves for the player to become great. Because, KD, the reason he wanted to stay in OKC was to win, right? So, they didn’t win the championship. That’s why he decided to leave. So do not hate only the player. Because sometimes it’s not up to the player.”

Antetokounmpo’s statement was probably more of a defense of Durant than a hint at his own future, so there’s little reason to read much into it at this point. But the Bucks’ front office will certainly take note. The club figures to do all it can over the next several years to convince its star player that he can win a title in Milwaukee, and surround him with players capable of helping him do so.

Here’s more from around the Central division:

  • The Bucks continue to explore possible trades involving Greg Monroe and/or John Henson, sources tell Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times. Previous reports indicated that both highly-paid big men were on the block. Within the same piece, Woelfel adds that Milwaukee is expected to name an assistant general manager by the end of the week. That assistant GM will work closely with new GM Jon Horst in the team’s front office.
  • The Cavaliers had interest in Derrick Rose regardless of Kyrie Irving‘s status, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. However, as Wojnarowski writes, the Cavs are starting to engage in trade discussions involving Irving, and the possibility of Rose gaining a more significant role in Cleveland “grows every day.”
  • The Pistons have a new jersey ad sponsor, reaching a deal with Flagstar Bank, per Darren Rovell of ESPN (Twitter link). One third of the league’s teams have now announced jersey sponsorship deals, as our ongoing list shows.

Central Notes: Monroe, Terry, LaVine, Bradley, Mirotic

Greg Monroe‘s name has been prevalent in trade rumors the last 12 months and not much has changed. The former seventh overall pick from the 2010 NBA Draft is still a productive asset but his lack of rim protection partnered with his sizeable salary ($17.8MM next season) make him an expendable player for the Bucks.

Before the Bucks faced the Jazz for Summer League action in Las Vegas Friday, Monroe told reporters, including Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box, that he’s thrilled to be in Milwaukee and doesn’t want to go elsewhere.

“I’m happy,” Monroe, 27, said.“I had no reason to leave. I want to build on what we started last year. I’d like to stay but that’s up to them.”

Coming off the bench last season, Monroe averaged 11.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and shot 53% from the floor in 22.5 minutes per game. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s new extension kicks in and Tony Snell (four years, $46MM) will take up a big chunk of the Bucks’ payroll so shedding Monroe’s salary remains an enticing proposition.

Here are additional notes around the Central Division:

  • Free agent Jason Terry is drawing interest around the league, Woelfel notes in the same article. The 39-year-old was a solid veteran presence for the Bucks last season but his return to Milwaukee is not certain. Woelfel adds that a Western Conference squad is weighing an offer to the former NBA champion.
  • After trading Marcus Morris to acquire Avery Bradley from the Celtics, the Pistons have high expectations from their new acquisition, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes. Coach Stan Van Gundy expressed his excitement with Bradley joining the team while the Celtics’ second leading scorer last season is ready to maximize his skills under Van Gundy’s tutelage and alongside players like Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond.
  • Nikola Mirotic wants to remain with the Bulls and the feeling is mutual, Joe Cowley of he Chicago Sun-Times writes. While Chicago has undergone several changes — most notably trading away Jimmy Butler — the restricted free agent and the team are just waiting it out before likely agreeing to a deal. Mirotic also discusses Butler’s exit and his plans for the future.
  • One of the Bulls’ newest acquisitions, Zach LaVine, is expected to be ready for training camp as he rehabs from knee surgery, ESPN’s Marc J. Spears tweets.

Bucks Looking To Trade Greg Monroe

The Bucks are once again exploring the trade market in search of a Greg Monroe trade, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Monroe has been the subject of on-again, off-again trade rumors over the last year, and Begley suggests that Milwaukee is once again looking to move the big man at the moment.

A former seventh overall pick, Monroe set a new career low in minutes per game in 2016/17, averaging just 22.5 MPG for the Bucks. Still, he was productive and efficient in his reduced role off the bench, recording 11.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.1 SPG with a .533 FG% in 81 regular season contests.

Although Monroe continues to be an effective scorer, he isn’t the sort of rim-protecting, floor-stretching big man that NBA teams are prioritizing these days. He’s also fairly expensive for the 2017/18 season, having exercised a player option worth nearly $17.9MM.

With Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s new extension kicking in, and Tony Snell having agreed to a lucrative new deal, it makes sense that the Bucks would once again be looking for ways to move Monroe’s salary.

Greg Monroe Will Opt In With Bucks

Greg Monroe will opt in for the final year of his contract with the Bucks, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical. Today was the deadline for Monroe to make a decision on the $17.88MM salary for next season.

The addition of Monroe was heralded as a major free agent signing for the franchise when he agreed to a three-year, $50MM deal with Milwaukee in 2015. His first season with the Bucks was considered a disappointment, and his name appeared frequently in trade rumors, but Monroe settled into a bench role this year and put up decent numbers. He averaged 11.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in 81 games as he reached the playoffs for the first time in his career.

Monroe reportedly told new GM Jon Horst that he wants to remain with the team and help it become a serious contender in the Eastern Conference.

Monroe’s decision means the Bucks will have little to no cap space this summer no matter what happens with restricted free agent Tony Snell. The Bucks are also awaiting a player option decision from Spencer Hawes, who is set to make a little more than $6MM next season.

Central Notes: George, Pistons, Cavs, Bucks

With reports that Paul George intends to explore free agency after next season, with his hometown Lakers as his preferred destination, concerns over possible tampering have surfaced. However, Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star writes that the Pacers are unlikely to pursue any tampering charges against the Lakers.

Team president Magic Johnson alluded to George’s situation during a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, and cryptically tweeted “God is so good!” this week shortly after the George’s plans to leave Indiana were reported. However, the Pacers are more concerned with getting value for their All-Star rather than stirring up issues in Los Angeles, according to Taylor.

Taylor adds that new Pacers president Kevin Pritchard hopes to have a trade for George in place ahead of Thursday’s draft.

Below are additional notes from the Central Division:

Bucks Plan To Retain Snell; Parker Making Progress

The Bucks plan to retain restricted free agent Tony Snell, Bucks general manager John Hammond said Thursday, according to The Associated Press (link via The Star Tribune).

“He’s an outstanding guy and a guy we want to have as part of our team moving forward,” Hammond said of Snell. “He’s about the right things. I think Tony wants to be here. We’re hoping to bring him back. We’re planning on him being with us next season.”

Since Snell will be a restricted free agent, Milwaukee can match any offer sheet he signs this offseason. In his first season with the Bucks, Snell started all 80 games in which he played, averaging career highs in points (8.5), field goal percentage (45.5), and minutes (29.2). He also became a three-point threat, converting 40.6% of his 4.4 three-point attempts per game.

Hammond also indicated that Jabari Parker is recovering promisingly from a torn ACL in his left knee and the medical staff hopes he can return for next season’s All-Star break. While Hammond certainly considers Parker a key part of the Bucks’ long-term future and referred to his progress as “amazing,” the forward’s eligibility for a contract extension this offseason could be complicated by his second torn ACL in three NBA seasons. Parker averaged 20.1 PPG and 6.2 RPG on 49.0% shooting in 51 games this season (33.9 MPG) before going down.

The general manager also spoke about Greg Monroe, who has until the night of the NBA draft on June 22 to decide whether he will exercise his $17.8MM player option for the 2017/2018 campaign. As the Bucks GM explains, the team wants to give Monroe some space to weigh that option decision: “At this time, it is a time to let Greg settle in and let him make the decision he feels is best for him.”

Despite averaging a career low in minutes per game and coming off the bench for all 81 games he played, Monroe enjoyed a productive season, averaging 11.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.3 APG, and shooting 53.4%. Monroe signed with the Bucks during the 2015 offseason after playing five seasons for the Pistons.

Central Notes: Rondo, Hoiberg, George, Bucks

Rajon Rondo faces an uncertain future with the Bulls, but he got an endorsement from coach Fred Hoiberg after tonight’s season-ending loss, tweets Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago. “I love Rondo,” Hoiberg told reporters. “I love the kid. I Iove coaching him.” Rondo is set to make $13.397MM next season, but only $3MM of that is guaranteed through June 30th. The 31-year-old point guard had a rocky regular season, but was instrumental in the eighth-seeded Bulls taking a 2-0 lead over the Celtics before he got hurt and missed the final four games of the series.

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • There were loud chants of “Fire Hoiberg” toward the end of tonight’s 22-point loss, but the second-year coach said he sympathizes with fans who are upset (Twitter link). “I understand the frustration,” Hoiberg said. “We got off to a 2-0 lead but couldn’t finish it off. I do understand.” He has three seasons left on the five-year, $25MM contract the Bulls gave him in 2015.
  • The results of next month’s draft lottery could impact a potential Paul George trade, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The Celtics, who enter the lottery with the best odds, and the Lakers, who are third, are the two teams most often mentioned as trading partners for George. Either could improve their bargaining positions by landing a top-two pick and giving the Pacers a shot at Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball. With Jeff Teague entering free agency, Indiana might be tempted to unload George in exchange for its point guard of the future. Pincus notes that the Celtics could trade for George and still be able to make a max offer in free agency (Twitter link).
  • The Bucks need another star but may not have the resources to add one, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Milwaukee will be over the cap if it re-signs Greg Monroe or Tony Snell, and would have less than $20MM to offer if both players leave, not enough to attract a max-level free agent. O’Connor believes keeping Snell should be a priority. In the draft, the Bucks have all their future first-rounders, but will pick 17th this year and won’t move any higher as long as they keep making the playoffs.

Five Key 2017/18 Player Option Decisions To Watch

With the NBA’s salary cap on the rise, most veterans who faced player option decisions a year ago chose to opt out of their deals in search of a larger payday. In fact, only three of last year’s 29 player options were exercised, and none of the three players who picked up their options – Tim Duncan, Mo Williams, and Caron Butler – have played an NBA game since then.

That trend will almost certainly continue this season, albeit perhaps not to the same extreme. For the most part, if a player remains healthy and productive headed into the offseason, he’s far more likely to turn down his player option in search of a longer-term deal than he is to opt in for one more season.

That’s not necessarily true in every case though. There are a handful of big-name players facing option decisions who aren’t considered locks to decline those options, for a variety of reasons. Let’s dive in and examine some of those looming player option decisions…

Dwyane WadeDwyane Wade vertical
Team: Chicago Bulls
Option value: $23,800,000

In free agency last summer, Wade reportedly received multiple offers in the same range as the Bulls’ $47MM proposal. The Heat’s two-year offer was believed to be worth a little less, while the Nuggets’ offer was said to be worth a little more.

A year later, Wade is coming off one of the worst seasons of his long and productive career. His .434 FG% and 3.9 APG represent career lows, and his 18.6 PPG is his worst mark since his rookie season, though the same can be said about his 30.2 MPG — his per-minute scoring numbers didn’t drop off significantly. The 35-year-old is also currently recovering from an elbow fracture.

If Wade were to opt out and become a free agent, it seems unlikely that he’d inspire a bidding war like last year’s. But he’s still an incredibly talented scorer, and I expect he’d receiver offers on the open market worth more than $23.8MM overall, even if his salary for 2017/18 wouldn’t be quite that high.

It’s also worth noting that Wade’s year in Chicago hasn’t exactly represented the storybook homecoming he might have hoped for. The Bulls’ season has been marred with dysfunction, rotation confusion, and a late-season slide that will likely keep the club out of the playoffs. Even if Wade isn’t confident in his ability to land more money in free agency, perhaps he’ll want to decline his option just to have the opportunity to choose a new team.

Rudy Gay
Team: Sacramento Kings
Option value: $14,263,566

Back in September, Gay informed the Kings that he intended to opt out of his contract in the summer of 2017, and it sounded at the time like Gay would probably be leaving Sacramento. Six months later though, he’s less certain about his future.

Much of that uncertainty can be attributed to his health. If Gay were finishing out the season strong and potential suitors this summer didn’t have to worry about injuries, opting out would be an easy choice. But Gay continues to recover from an Achilles tendon tear, which he suffered in January.

Shortly after suffering the injury, Gay issued a statement that was aggressively optimistic about his rehab, suggesting that he fully anticipates being ready for the start of the 2017/18 season. Even if that’s the case though, will teams in July be prepared to bid on Gay with full confidence?

The veteran forward may prefer to leave Sacramento, but it might ultimately make more sense for him to opt in, take his time getting back to full strength, and hit the market in the summer of 2018 after rebuilding his value. The Kings’ trade of DeMarcus Cousins last month signaled a significant change of direction for the franchise, so they might even look to trade Gay to a more favorable destination for him if he does opt in.

Gordon HaywardGordon Hayward vertical
Team: Utah Jazz
Option value: $16,736,710

On its surface, Hayward’s player option decision looks like an easy one. He has been one of the best forwards in the NBA this season, and he’ll be in line for a maximum-salary contract – or something very close to it – if he hits free agency this summer.

However, Hayward’s place among the NBA’s top forwards is exactly what complicates his option decision. As Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk outlines, earning a spot on one of the three All-NBA teams this year would make Hayward eligible for a designated veteran extension from Utah, meaning he could earn up to 35% of the cap instead of 30% — but only if he picks up his player option and then signs a new extension.

Becoming one of those six All-NBA forwards won’t be an easy task for Hayward, given his competition. But the situation creates an interesting predicament for the Jazz. Would they want Hayward to earn an All-NBA spot and become eligible for that more expensive extension? It would likely increase their chances of keeping him, but it would also mean potentially tying up a ton of money in a player who is probably one or two tiers below the NBA’s top superstars.

Pau Gasol
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Option value: $16,197,500

After earning All-Star nods in each of his two seasons with the Bulls, Pau Gasol has had to adjust to a reduced role this season in San Antonio. Gasol’s 25.7 minutes per contest this season is easily a career low, but he has been about as effective as you’d expect when he does play — his .504 FG% is his best since 2011/12.

Gasol will turn 37 this summer, and if he decides to opt out and return to free agency, potential suitors would have to determine whether his reduced role is simply a result of playing in the Spurs’ system, or if he’s getting to a point in his career where he’s no longer capable of being a full-time, All-Star-caliber starter.

At 52-15, the Spurs have the NBA’s second-best record and look like one of the few teams with a legit chance to win this year’s championship. Depending on how the postseason plays out, Gasol could continue to prioritize that title chase and opt in for another year in San Antonio. But if he’d prefer to join a team that would give him one more chance to play 30+ minutes per game, perhaps he’ll opt out look elsewhere.

Greg Monroe
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Option value: $17,884,176

The uncertainty surrounding Monroe’s player option was one reason why the Bucks had such a hard time trading him over the last year or so. Teams wanting to secure Monroe for multiple years were worried that he’d opt out in 2017, while teams wanting to acquire him while maintaining cap flexibility for the 2017/18 season were concerned that he’d opt in.

As Monroe prepares to finish another season with the Bucks, that option decision doesn’t look any clearer. His fit in Milwaukee wasn’t great initially, but like Gasol in San Antonio, he has adjusted to a role off the bench this season and is playing some very efficient ball.

Monroe’s 18.8 points per 36 minutes represent a career high, and his .528 FG% is his best since his rookie year — while he may not be having the sort of impact you’d expect from a player earning his kind of salary, the former seventh overall pick has been a key piece of the Bucks’ rotation as an interior scorer off the bench.

Still, Monroe is still just 26 years old, and his strong play in limited minutes for Milwaukee this season may convince him that he should have a larger role. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him turn down a 2017/18 payday of nearly $18MM in search of a team that can give him that larger role, along with a longer-term contract.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Early Decision Dates For 2017/18 Player Options

By default, NBA players who hold player options for the following season generally don’t have to make an official decision on those options until June 29, just two days before the new league year gets underway. However, that date can be altered on a contract-by-contract basis, which is why many of the 25 players who have player options or early termination options for 2017/18 will be making their decisions prior to June 29 this year.

Several of those player option decisions are due either on a specific date or a certain number of days following a team’s final regular season game. For instance, Rudy Gay‘s player option calls for him to make a decision either on June 10, or five days after the Kings’ last game — whichever comes later. Kyle Lowry, meanwhile, has to make a decision on his player option by June 19, or within seven days of the Raptors’ last game — whichever comes earlier.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has done an excellent job keeping tabs on these early player option decision dates, so we’ll use his data to break down the schedule of upcoming decision dates. If a player who holds a 2017/18 player option isn’t listed here, that means his decision is due on June 29, or his decision date hasn’t been reported.

Here’s the list of early decision dates for 2017/18 player options:

Potentially dependent on when team’s season ends:

  • June 10 (or five days after team’s last game): Rudy Gay (Kings)
  • June 19 (or seven days after team’s last game): Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  • June 20 (or two days after team’s last game): Aron Baynes (Pistons), C.J. Miles (Pacers)

The rest:

For details on how much these player options are worth, check out our list of 2017 free agents by position or by team.

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