It's been an interesting 12 months for Greg Monroe. Coming off a career-best season, Monroe was eligible for an extension last offseason. The Detroit Pistons instead chose to sign Josh Smith to a lucrative deal, creating a logjam at power forward and leading to some dysfunctional rotations. Now a restricted free agent, the rumors have been all over the place with Monroe. Through a lot of the process, it appeared the only way Monroe was going to return to Detroit on a long-term deal was if the Pistons matched an offer sheet from another team.
That may not be the case now, as Monroe and the Pistons have been discussing a long-term deal, according to Michael Wallace of ESPN.com. Wallace reports the two sides have discussed a deal similar to the five-year, $60 million deal Marcin Gortat and the Wizards agreed to earlier in free agency.
Could Monroe and the Pistons be next to strike a deal?
Why it makes sense
Monroe was reportedly seeking a deal worth the maximum or near-maximum allowed for a player in his situation. That offer -- which would be in the four-year, $63 million range -- hasn't been officially made yet. While free agency should pick up once LeBron James and a couple of the other top stars agree to deals, the interest in Monroe at a max salary has yet to develop. A five-year deal worth $60 million isn't max money, but it's still $12 million per season.
There is also the caveat of the vagueness Wallace's report. He wrote the two sides "are believed to have discussed a deal somewhere in the range of the five-year, $60 million contract center Marcin Gortat agreed to last week." That leaves a lot of room for interpretation. As Detroit Bad Boys noted, there is a significant difference between a deal in the range of five years and $60 million and a deal in the range of $60 million. A four-year deal worth $60 million would be worth close to max money. Without knowing the specifics, it makes a lot of sense for the two sides to be discussing a deal in the range of $12-15 million per season. The Pistons would lock up a talented 24-year-old post player while Monroe would land the lucrative contract he's searching for.
Why it doesn't make sense
Regardless of the money at hand, there is still the elephant in the room in the form of Smith. Stan Van Gundy said Monroe and his representatives have never voiced an issue of playing with Smith, instead denying those rumors. Even still, the trio of Smith, Monroe and Andre Drummond are not a natural combination on the floor. Smith and Monroe are both best-suited to play power forward. If playing with Smith is an issue for Monroe, signing a long-term deal with Detroit wouldn't be wise. That would guarantee three more years of the logjam at power forward unless Detroit can find a trade partner willing to take on Smith's bloated contract.
Monroe might be better off signing his qualifying offer for $5.5 million and hitting unrestricted free agency next offseason. That could mean leaving more than $40 million on the table now, but if the Pistons are only offering a four-year deal worth $48 million, Monroe might be better served waiting. There aren't many big men as offensively skilled as Monroe in the NBA and even at 25 years old, he would be a hot commodity on the open market next year.
Very few players turn down money, making a long-term deal in Detroit or elsewhere the most likely outcome. The likelihood Monroe signs a deal in the $60 million range depends on if it's for four or five years. A four-year deal worth $60 million would compare to DeMarcus Cousins' extension and be a hard offer for Monroe to decline. He may pause, if the discussions are more geared toward the $12 million per season figure. Either way, a deal worth between $12-15 million per season appears to be a logical outcome and with lackluster interest around the league up to this point, the likelihood of the deal happening in Detroit might be rising by the day.