If there were a power ranking in regard to NBA players names being plugged into ESPN’s Trade Machine, Greg Monroe would be at or near the top of the list. The 23-year-old Monroe is set to hit free agency this summer and more than likely will be in search of a maximum-level contract. Although Monroe has been a proven post scorer and proficient rebounder, he’s struggled on the defensive end of the floor throughout his career.
For that very reason it seems as if the Pistons are weary of locking up Monroe to the max deal. The Pistons will have to take the chance of going into the offseason and waiting to see if any other team across the league is willing to give Monroe that type of money.
Therein lies the problem. If you’re the Pistons and you’re skeptical of handing over that kind of money to Monroe, what should you do?
Well, trading him is one solution, hence all of the rumors and Trade Machine shenanigans. But, the team has also made it (kind of) clear that they intend to lock up Monroe for the future. It is the Association though, and nothing is a sure thing.
I’m on record with the belief that trading Monroe could end up crippling the franchise if they make some rash decision. Monroe possesses great feet and patience which in return makes him one of the league’s best scorers from the block. Not only does he score from the post, Monroe is also a terrific passer and his paint P.I.C. Andre Drummond often pays dividends because of that.
Having a true post up player in Monroe has taken a lot of pressure off Drummond and has allowed the young big man to slowly evolve his offensive game.
With everything said, there’s always a chance because of his contract situation that Monroe could be dealt, and of all the Monroe trade rumors, there’s one thought-up deal that isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility.
ESPN NBA Countdown panelist and Grantland founder Bill Simmons tweeted, in my opinion, the only possible Greg Monroe deal that makes sense for both sides involved:
On last fake trade tweet: Detroit gets Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson + Jeff Withey; N.O. gets Greg Monroe + the Villanueva/Stuckey expirings.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 16, 2013
I bring this tweet up now almost a month later because the Pistons were in New Orleans last night and it seemed appropriate to get a first hand look at all parties involved. It was a great night for all the key cogs of the trade. Monroe, who hails from New Orleans (another reason this trade makes sense), finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Rodney Stuckey finished with 20 points off the bench. The Pelicans’ Ryan Anderson poured in 22 points and was the definition of clutch, closing out the game in overtime by hitting a pair of big-time threes. Eric Gordon, who has miraculously and fortunately played in all 20 Pelicans games so far this season, played a solid game, adding 14 points and six assists.
Why this trade makes sense
Right now there’s an obvious log jam in the paint on the current Pistons’ roster. Moving Monroe would send Josh Smith back to the power forward slot and away from the three-point line (HALLELUJAH).
In return the Pistons would receive one of the league’s most productive stretch-fours in Ryan Anderson, who’s having a career year averaging 21.7 points per game while shooting a blistering 50 percent from three.
Anderson has been one of the league’s most unheralded big’s throughout his five-year career; I mean, there’s not a lot of 6-foot-10, 240-pound power forwards that can shoot at the level Anderson does. The Pistons could utilize Anderson in an inordinate amount of ways offensively and he’s also the type of player that can give a team a scoring punch either as a starter, sixth man or role player.
The Pistons would also acquire a shooting guard in Eric Gordon that, when healthy, is an explosive scorer and reliable outside shooter, something the Pistons could desperately use.
But, the ultimate issue with Gordon is health.
Gordon hasn’t played more than 60 games since the 2009-10 NBA season. The Pistons have found some security in the two-guard slot from the promising rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but the verdict is still out. The possibility of adding a second player to that two-guard spot like Gordon could be an intriguing idea. Gordon makes over $13 million per season and has three years left on his deal which could be a deal-breaker because of his health woes, but having Caldwell-Pope as a security blanket helps.
The Pistons sending the Stuckey and Villanueva expiring contracts to New Orleans would be really enticing and beneficial to the Pelicans’ franchise and would allow them to sign Monroe to a max deal, back in his hometown, if they so choose. An imagined Monroe and Anthony Davis frontline would make a lot of sense as they both can play the four and five interchangeably, and Davis, an outstanding defensive talent, could mask Monroe’s inefficiencies at that end.
Why it doesn’t make sense
Monroe means too much to the Pistons’ future. Not only is he a terrific young talent, he’s a top-notch human being, and those two components could make it almost impossible to pull the trigger on a potential deal, even if it’s possible they could lose him anyway in free agency.
Also, there’s less drastic ways to solve the log jam up front. For starters, Josh Smith would serve the Pistons much better as their small forward if he displayed more of those lefty-hooks coming across the lane like he eloquently displayed in the fourth-quarter last night, rather than the usual barrage of low-percentage jump shots.
From the Pelicans’ perspective, it seems too early to cut ties with Gordon and put all the two-guard stock in Tyreke Evans. The injury history is troubling, but this year so far has been promising and hopefully he can stay healthy. Plus, at this moment, it would be really hard to let go of Anderson. Anderson also makes a lot of money, $8 million-plus with three years left on his deal, but he’s a relatively cheap commodity when taking into consideration the numbers he’s putting up.
It’s still early in the season, but hey, it’s never too early to speculate and think ahead just a little bit.
Feel free to express your thoughts on this proposed fake deal and others you have in mind.