Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe has been extended a qualifying offer, but the restricted free agent is threatening to sign it in order to become an unrestricted player next summer, according to Zach Lowe of Grantland.com.
Why this is a good idea
Specifically, Monroe is reportedly considering signing the QO if Josh Smith is not moved from the roster in a rumored deal for Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas. For Monroe, the impetus would be to move to the open market in the summer of 2015 as an unrestricted free agent.
Monroe's presence in Detroit is clearly affected by Smith. Last season, the Pistons tried out a three big-man rotation of Monroe, Smith and Andre Drummond with disastrous results. Smith is clearly better suited to play power forward, and with Monroe occupying that position there appears to be a need for change.
In the open market, Monroe would likely be able to fetch a similar sum as he would in RFA, but the Pistons wouldn't have the opportunity to match. This would give him the ability to choose a roster of his liking where there would hopefully be less interference positionally. At the end of the day, Detroit does need to find a solution to their Big 3 problem.
Why this is a bad idea
Even Lowe points out that this is unlikely to happen and probably more posturing than anything:
Reading between the lines, a sign-and-trade involving Thomas and Josh Smith may be in the works, and multiple sources say Monroe’s camp has made it known Monroe will sign the one-year qualifying offer if Smith remains on the roster. Monroe’s camp denies that, and that kind of empty threat is not atypical from top restricted free agents. It’s really their only form of leverage.
Trying to force Smith out when new head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy hasn't even had a chance to make an impact doesn't seem wise for Monroe. Smith was their big signing in the summer of 2013 and unless Detroit gets what they want for him, they are unlikely to quit on him so quickly, especially at the behest of another player on the roster.
It's not entirely clear what the best move is for the Pistons, but dumping Smith for pennies on the dollar isn't how Van Gundy wants to kick off his tenure.
Likelihood it happens
Again, this is probably just Monroe's camp trying to receive some grease on their squeaky wheel. Monroe is still eligible to sign an extension with the Pistons, so it could be a play there. In any case, it's unlikely Detroit bolts at his request, and if Smith moves it will be under Van Gundy's own volition. I'd put this a doubtful 2/10 chance of happening. Grade: C-