We haven't heard much about Greg Monroe and the Detroit Pistons recently, but that doesn't mean the situation is any closer to a resolution. According to a recent podcast appearance from Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, passed on from Detroit Bad Boys, Monroe and the team have been working to put together a sign-and-trade deal.
He also indicated that Monroe would prefer to play elsewhere, if everything else is even:
Detroit has tried to help him with some sign-and-trade possibilities around the league. Monroe doesn’t really have a great interest in going back and playing with the Pistons. But if they’re going to move him in a sign-and-trade, they’ve got to get value for him. And they’ve got to get back some significant players, some significant talent, to compensate for that loss. They haven’t been able to find a deal for him.
The Pistons and Monroe are in a tough situation right now, since the big man is clearly deserving of a max contract in today's market but Detroit, for whatever reason, won't pay out. That's understandably led to some tension between the two sides, especially given the huge money Josh Smith received from the team last offseason.
Monroe has already asked that Smith be traded, and the Pistons reportedly spoke to the Kings at length on that front, but a deal didn't come together. If Monroe really wants out, a sign-and-trade does appear to be the only way to do it, since nobody is extending a big offer sheet at this point in the summer.
Could Monroe really be forcing his way out out of the Motor City?
Why this makes sense
Monroe has been one of the best young big men in the league over the past few years, but Detroit has never quite treated him like a franchise player. Between the drafting of Andre Drummond and the Smith signing, Monroe always felt like the third banana in the Pistons' dream frontcourt.
This summer has only intensified speculation that Detroit isn't entirely enamored with Monroe. Not only has the team avoided offering him a max-level deal this offseason, potentially leaving him to take a one-year deal entering next season, but it's failed to address the clear issues with the personnel already in house.
As we saw last season, a frontline of Smith, Monroe and Drummond simply isn't going to work. Smith doesn't have the necessary skills to fit at the three, and the group just generally looked out of sync despite having 80-plus games to figure things out.
Monroe has reasons to be frustrated, both on the court and off of it.
Why this doesn't make sense
Where exactly is Monroe going to go? Most teams don't have the available cap space for a lucrative offer sheet at this point in the offseason, and possible sign-and-trades haven't coalesced into serious discussions yet. Monroe might want out of Detroit, but it takes two to tango and he's lacking an obvious dancing partner.
During the podcast interview, Wojnarowski mentioned the Hawks, Suns and Trail Blazers as teams that showed interest this summer, but then he added the kicker:
"Those teams moved on, and they realized – again, they could have signed Monroe to an offer sheet, but Detroit would have likely matched it, and they weren’t just going to let him leave for nothing."
Teams could've pressured the Pistons with offer sheets earlier this offseason, but they opted not to because of the high odds of Detroit matching. That's always made a sign-and-trade the more likely option, but then you're talking about giving up potentially significant assets in addition to a max-level deal for Monroe.
Ultimately, given the relative price tags for different teams, the Pistons have long been positioned as his most obvious destination.
The Pistons and Monroe clearly have some issues to work out, both basketball-wise and contractually. Entering next season on a lame duck one-year deal probably isn't ideal for either side, but it's possible if Monroe is truly set on leaving Detroit as soon as he can.
However, the lack of possible suitors for the big man leaves a major question mark over the entire situation, and makes it difficult to imagine a resolution where he's not a Piston. While the two sides might be frustrated right now, we'll peg the odds of Monroe leaving this offseason at 2 out of 10.