According to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insider, the Washington Wizards are interested in acquiring Pistons forward Greg Monroe, whether by trade or in free agency. Kennedy mentions that Monroe has been in trade rumors throughout the season, thanks to his restricted free agent status this offseason.
Makes sense, I guess?
Since he arrived into the NBA from Georgetown, I’ve been a fan of Greg Monroe. He’s an extremely skilled big man. This offseason however, I didn’t see the fit for Monroe in Detroit. Andre Drummond was emerging as a star going into his second season, and the addition of Josh Smith made Monroe’s role more undefined. Before the Pistons signed Brandon Jennings, many believed that Monroe would be an excellent centerpiece in a trade that would send Rajon Rondo to Detroit. Either way, the court has been tightened with the lack of shooters in Detroit, but Monroe has found a way to average 14.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.
The puzzling thing about Greg Monroe is his shooting at the rim. Over the last three seasons, Monroe has been just about average on shot attempts at the rim, finishing about 54% of them. While Monroe wouldn’t classify as a stretch four, he’s pretty solid in shooting mid-range shots. His averages on the left side between 8 to 16 feet has been 44% (2011), 35% (2012) and 41% this season. Along with his shooting ability, Monroe hustles on the boards. Sharing the duties with Andre Drummond, Monroe is averaging 8.6 rebounds, but is 6th in the league in contested rebound percentage, per NBA.com’s SportsVU data tracking. At 12.7 rebound chances per game, Monroe grabs 57% of his rebound chances as well, also per NBA.com’s SportsVU data tracking.
For the Wizards, the addition of Greg Monroe would be huge for positive momentum moving forward. After a season that saw them net the third overall pick in the draft, the Wizards are prime to claim one of the playoff seeds in the Eastern Conference. While that’s not saying much in the grand scheme of things, it’s a step forward, and the addition of Monroe would continue to offer positive momentum, in hopes of moving up in the East in the future. John Wall is a talented point guard and play maker, Bradley Beal is a potential all-star at the shooting guard position, and while drafted last offseason, Otto Porter has promise. If those three can become what the Wizards envision, then the addition of Greg Monroe on top of that would be stellar for the future of the Washington franchise.
I have a few issues to bring up, however:
How does Washington acquire Greg Monroe? The Wizards should have the salary cap space next summer. According to Shamsports.com, the Wizards have 43 million tied up into their 2014 roster, making it capable for Washington to offer Greg Monroe a sizable contract. The only issue is that Detroit can match any offer given to Monroe. Both sides can agree to a sign-and-trade, but then, what does Washington give up? Can a package of Nene, Otto Porter, and a future first-round pick (The Wizards cannot give up a first-round pick during the season because of the Marcin Gortat trade. In said trade, the Wizards gave up a protected first-round pick with protections in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, meaning until the pick is received, the Wizards can’t give up a pick. That being said, the Wizards will make the playoffs, meaning the pick will go to Phoenix this offseason, and Washington can trade a draft pick this offseason.) entice the Pistons to let go of Monroe? I’m not sure, but I feel confident that if the Pistons are open to signing-and-trading Monroe, that Washington’s offer won’t be the best offer on the table.
Maybe the Pistons and Wizards can agree to a trade now? The Wizards are 20-20, so their goal is clear, but what are the Pistons’ intentions? The Pistons are 17-24, sitting in the 9th position in the East. Are the Pistons making a trade in efforts to get better for a playoff push this season or to rebuild and try again in a year or two? If it’s the former, the Wizards have the correct assets to offer. If it’s the latter, the Wizards might have a problem. Otto Porter would have to be in the deal, and even then, you’ll need to sweeten the pot (again, attempting to sweeten the pot without a first-round draft pick this season) even more to entice the Pistons to give up on him before the offseason when Detroit can arguably receive more, or keep Monroe and move him for more down the road.
My second issue for Washington is if they acquire him. From what we know about Monroe, he’s a good power forward, but his defense is lacking a bit. He’s not great in defending the pick-and-roll, and can’t be counted upon as a rim protector. As valuable as Monroe is offensively, he’s a tough player to build with because the second post position might be filled with someone who can protect the rim, and those guys don’t grow on trees. The Pistons were one of the worst teams in the protecting the rim earlier in the season, but that has rebounded to 17th in the league, allowing 59% shooting, per NBA.com’s Media Stats site. It’s a secondary issue when acquiring Monroe, but an issue nonetheless. Teams without rim protection aren’t usually title contenders, and for the Wizards, that has to be the second thing to acquire if Monroe is added to the team.
All in all, I’m for Monroe on the Wizards if it happens. For the better part of a decade, the Pistons have been stuck in the middle, resulting in some laughable seasons. It’s tough to imagine them getting much better from a Monroe trade, but moving Josh Smith to his natural position of power forward would help his game immensely (That, and stop taking those damn jumpers, Josh), and placing more shooters in that starting lineup should help Brandon Jennings in his efforts of running the team. Not to mention, the Pistons should be in a good place financially by not paying Monroe. After Smith and Jennings’ price tags (13.5 and 8.0 for 2014, respectively), the Pistons aren’t paying another player over three million dollars, and outside of one pick to Charlotte, the Pistons have all of their draft picks moving forward.
For the Wizards, it’s all about keeping the positive momentum. Other than the Gilbert Arenas era (Four winning seasons, four playoff appearances, one playoff series victory), the Wizards have won three playoff series since winning the NBA title in 1977. Having John Wall and Bradley Beal for the next decade is a positive step in the right direction. While 20-20, the Wizards are going the right way in the Eastern Conference, and if the playoffs started today, would have the fourth seed in the East. Yes, that means the East is putrid (The Wizards are also one game behind Atlanta for the third spot in the East), but it’s also comforting to see a team go from the bottom to the middle, with some space for improvement. Going after Greg Monroe would affirm that the Wizards understand that they’re going in the right direction, and would like to continue the trend of making postseason appearances. I can’t be mad at them for that at all.