On Monday, Jesse Blancarte offered up a number of possible trade scenarios involving Nets point guard Deron Williams. Along with Williams, the Nets have made Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson available and seem ready to unload some their top talent after starting 10-14.
Today we take a look at another big name who may be on move, Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe. After spending this past summer as a restricted free agent, Monroe and the Pistons were unable come to terms on a long-term deal. Not landing the lucrative contract he had in mind, Monroe settled for the $5.5 million dollar qualifying offer from the Pistons. His acceptance of the qualifying earned Monroe a no-trade clause, giving him the power to veto any deal that isn’t to his liking. No matter where Monroe finishes the season he will once again be in line for a big payday, a factor that will weigh heavily for any team considering acquiring the young big man since he will lose his bird rights with any trade, meaning they re-sign him without going under the cap.
Even with the Pistons off to a dreadful start, reports surfaced this week that Monroe might not be ready to jump ship quite yet. He has denied rumors that he adamantly wants to be traded, so his departure might not be as imminent as some thought.
Earlier this week, Yannis Koutroupis took a look at what type of market is out there for Monroe. He explained that, despite Monroe’s talent, the Pistons may have a difficult time getting significant pieces in return considering the large contract that is on the horizon for Monroe. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the full article as it offers great insight into what teams could be a possible fit for Monroe.
With that said, let’s take closer look at a few of those teams and what type deals they could make to add Monroe.
New York Knicks
Incoming Players: Greg Monroe
Outgoing Players: Iman Shumpert, Jason Smith, Cleanthony Early.
The Knicks made a number of changes this offseason with the hopes of fielding a competitive squad. They showed that they are confident that Carmelo Anthony can be the centerpiece of a winning organization, re-signing him to a five-year, $124.1 million contract. Not only did they retain their most productive player, they also brought in one of the NBA’s brightest basketball minds in Phil Jackson. Jackson took over as the President of Basketball Operations and is tasked with changing the culture in New York.
Even with Anthony back in the fold and under the guidance of a Jackson disciple in Derek Fisher, the Knicks have struggled mightily to start the season. Shockingly, they have actually lost just as many games as the undermanned Sixers. To be fair the Knicks have played and won three more games than the Sixers, but nonetheless that’s not something to be proud of.
On the bright side, the Knicks have quite a few players who are on the final season of their contracts, allowing the team to make changes to the roster in the offseason – most notably the albatross contract of Amar’e Stoudemire. The Knicks will have the financial flexibility to offer Greg Monroe the generous long-term deal that he desires. Monroe is a more than capable passer who would fit nicely in the Knicks’ triangle attack.
In this hypothetical deal, the Pistons would receive Iman Shumpert, rookie forward Cleanthony Early and veteran big man Jason Smith. While the Pistons already have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jodie Meeks at the two-guard, Shumpert is versatile enough to play either wing spot and would give the team a terrific perimeter defender. Early is an intriguing young prospect, one the Pistons would be overjoyed to extract from the Knicks. He has battled injuries this season, which has limited his time on the court, but has shown promising flashes. Smith is a reliable big that would provide depth down low.
Incoming Players: Greg Monroe
Outgoing Players: DeMarre Carroll, Adreian Payne, Hawks 2015 Second Round Pick, Hawks 2017 Second Round pick.
The Hawks were one of a few teams that were rumored to be very interested in Monroe this past offseason. Like the Knicks, the Hawks will have cap flexibility following this season to make Monroe a long-term offer. The Hawks will almost certainly be in the Monroe sweepstakes next offseason if he hasn’t been locked into a deal by then. However, they could also make a play prior to the trade deadline this season.
The Hawks have gotten off to a terrific start and look to be right in the mix at the top of the East. Although they’re playing very well, there is still a talent gap between them and some of the elite teams around the league. If they want to make a serious run at a title this season, adding Monroe would go a long way to help their chances. Acquiring Monroe would not only benefit the Hawks this season but, assuming they would be able to re-sign him, also give them insurance if they were lose Paul Millsap in free agency this offseason.
It’s been reported that the Pistons were asking for Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver last summer when the two teams discussed a possible Monroe trade, a price that proved to be too steep for the Hawks at the time. It seems extremely unlikely that the Hawks would consider moving Teague or Korver prior to the trade deadline this year with how well the team is playing. In this scenario they would give up starting small forward DeMarre Carroll and rookie first-round pick Adreian Payne, a stretch four who could be an ideal fit long-term alongside franchise centerpiece Andre Drummond. The Hawks have other options at wing with Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore and they could look to those players to help fill the void at small forward. The addition of Monroe would give the Hawks a tremendous frontcourt and make them a real threat in the East.
Carroll made nice strides as player the past few seasons and is a more than capable starter who could help the Pistons immediately and in years to come. The trade would also have the Pistons receive the Hawks’ 2015 second-round pick and the Hawks’ 2017 second-round pick. In both 2015 and 2017 the Hawks have multiple second round picks, increasing the likelihood that they would be willing to move picks to land Monroe. From the Pistons’ perspective, the more draft picks the better. With as poorly as the Pistons’ current group has played together, Stan Van Gundy may need to completely overhaul their roster. If the Pistons do choose to tear it down and rebuild, every additional draft pick the Pistons can land will be important.
Incoming Players: Greg Monroe, Caron Butler
Outgoing Players: Amir Johnson, James Johnson, Raptors 2016 First Round Pick.
This deal would be similar the above Hawks deal, as it would really push the Raptors over the top and into the conversation as a legitimate title contender. They have already impressed by jumping out to 20-6 start and currently have best record in the East, even with star guard DeMar DeRozan missing time with an injury. The question for the Raptors, like the Hawks, is with their current group do they have enough win it all?
Monroe would settle right in to the spot vacated by Amir Johnson. He, along with Jonas Valanciunas, would give the Raptors two post players with different skill sets that could really complement each other. The combination of a physical big in Valancianus and skilled big in Monroe would allow the Raptors to take advantage of different match-ups. Butler would join the Raptors and give the team a veteran scorer off the bench who has plenty of experience in big games.
For the Pistons, they would get back one-time Piston Amir Johnson, James Johnson and the Raptors’ 2016 first round pick. Johnson is in the final year of his deal, but could offer the Pistons a more affordable option at the four spot going forward if they chose to re-sign him. Of course, Josh Smith will still be under contract, so his role will certainly factor into the equation. James Johnson would give Pistons a high-energy player on a cheap deal, who is having his most efficient season as a pro and shooting 57.5 percent from the field. The Pistons would also get the Raptors’ 2016 first round pick. Although the Raptors would be giving their first round pick in 2016, they still would have a pick in that round, owning the rights to the less favorable of the Knicks’ and Nuggets’ 2016 first round picks. While at first glance this deal may appear to favor the Raptors, the value of additional first round picks can be massive, particularly for a young team like Detroit. Having multiple first round picks in a draft can really help accelerate the rebuilding process and is something that could pay huge dividends for the Pistons.
In all three deals the team receiving Monroe is going to insist on assurance from Monroe that he will re-sign with that team. Without a commitment from Monroe, it’s unlikely any team would be willing to part with significant assets, whether that be valuable draft picks or players, since they could lose him in free agency after the season.
These are just a few scenarios that the Pistons may explore as they consider their future with Monroe, but surely aren’t the only possibilities. As things stand, Monroe is denying reports that he wants out of the Detroit. However, if he isn’t willing to commit to long-term to the Pistons prior to the trade deadline, they will be faced unattractive likelihood of losing him for nothing this offseason.
The G-League is a Path Back to the NBA
The G-League has become an avenue for several player types toward the NBA, writes David Yapkowitz.
When the NBA first instituted their development league, its main purpose was two-fold. The first was to give experience to young players who perhaps were not seeing regular playing time on their respective NBA teams. The second was to give undrafted players a chance at getting exposure and ultimately getting to the NBA.
With the growth in size and popularity of the development league, now known as the G-League, it’s begun to serve another purpose. It’s become a place for older veterans who have already tasted the NBA life to get back to the highest level of basketball that they once knew.
One player in particular who has a wealth of NBA experience is Terrence Jones. Jones is currently playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the G-League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors.
Jones was originally drafted by the Houston Rockets with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft. He was part of a vaunted class of Kentucky Wildcats that year, which included Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, and Darius Miller. During his four years with the Rockets, he emerged as a dependable reserve and part-time starter. He averaged 9.5 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting and 5.3 rebounds.
“It was just a lot of excitement and a lot of joy, being part of the Houston Rockets was a lot of fun,” Jones told Basketball Insiders. “We had great memories and great seasons, a lot of up and downs, I just enjoyed the journey.”
Jones’ dealt with injuries his last two season in Houston, and when he was a free agent in the summer of 2016, the Rockets didn’t re-sign him. He was scooped by the New Orleans Pelicans, however, and he made an immediate impact for them. Prior to the trade deadline, he played in 51 games for the Pelicans, including 12 starts while putting up 11.5 points on 47.2 percent shooting, and 5.9 rebounds.
When the Pelicans acquired DeMarcus Cousins, however, they cut Jones. He didn’t stay unemployed for long, though, as he was signed by the Milwaukee Bucks to add depth for a playoff run. He was unable to crack the rotation, though, and the Bucks cut him as well before the playoff started. After a brief stint in China, he’s now back stateside and using the G-League to get back to the NBA.
“That’s the goal. Right now, I feel I’ve been playing pretty well and just trying to help my team get wins,” Jones told Basketball Insiders. “I think I can play multiple positions offensively and defensively. Whether that’s creating plays for myself or for others, I think I can help contribute on the offensive end.”
He’s been the second-leading scorer for Santa Cruz with 19.9 points per game. He’s pulling down 7.1 rebounds, and even dishing out 4.5 assists. In the G-League Challenge against the Mexican National Team at All-Star Weekend, he finished with eight points on 50.0 percent shooting, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He’s definitely a name to watch for as NBA teams scour the market for 10-day contract possibilities.
Another player who’s had a taste of the NBA is Xavier Silas. Silas is currently with the Northern Arizona Suns, the affiliate of the Phoenix Suns. He went undrafted in 2011 and started his professional career in France. That only last a few months before he came back the United States and latched on with the Philadelphia 76ers.
He played sparingly with the 76ers and was ultimately cut before the start of the 2012-13 season. Since then, he’s played summer league with the Bucks, and been in two different training camps with the Washington Wizards.
“It was amazing, any time you get to go and play at the highest level, and I even got to play in the playoffs and play in the second round and even score, that was big,” Silas told Basketball Insiders. “It was a great time for me and that’s what I’m working towards getting back.”
While his professional career has taken him all across the globe from Israel to Argentina to Greece to Germany and even Ice Cube’s BIG3 league, he sees the G-League as being the one place that will get him back to where he wants to be.
He’s done well this season for Northern Arizona. He’s their third-leading scorer at 19.3 points per game and he’s one of their top three-point threats at 39.9 percent. At the All-Star Weekend G-League Challenge against the Mexican National Team, Silas had a team-high 13 points for Team USA including 3-5 shooting from three-point range.
It’s isn’t just what he brings on the court that Silas believes makes him an attractive candidate for an NBA team. At age 30, he’s one of the older guys in the G-League and one with a lot of basketball experience to be passed down to younger guys.
“I think it’s a little bit of leadership, definitely some shooting. I’m a vet now so I’m able to come in and help in that aspect as well. But everybody needs someone who can hit an open shot and I think I can bring that to a team,” Silas told Basketball Insiders. “I think it’s the best place for anyone who’s trying to make that next step. We’re available and we’re right here, it’s just a call away.”
NBA Daily: Lillard Playing For Something Bigger
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has his eyes set on a bigger prize than just being an NBA All-Star.
Playing For Something Bigger
The NBA All-Star Game is a spectacle.
By design, the game is meant to be a showcase, not just for the players selected to compete, but for the league and all of its partners, on and off the floor. It is easy to get caught up in how players selected actually play, but the reality is while most see the game as important for a lot of reasons, Portland Trail Blazer star Damian Lillard understands it has to be put into perspective.
“I don’t think it’s fair to expect people to go out there and treat it like they are playing for the team they’re under contract for,” Lillard explained this weekend.
“It’s the one time in an 82-game season plus playoffs, preseason and training camp that we actually get a break. It’s necessary to take a mental break, along with a physical break from what we do every day. There’s nothing wrong with that, so I don’t think it’s fair to ask guys to go out there and play like it’s for the Trail Blazers. My loyalty is to my team; I got to stay healthy for my team. I got to do what’s best for my team. Obviously, go out there [during All-Star] and not mess around too much and that’s how people get hurt and stuff like that. You got to go out there and play and have respect for the game, but I don’t think it’s necessary to go out there and go crazy like it’s a playoff game.”
Lillard notched 21 minutes in Sunday’s big game, going 9-for-14 from the field for 21 points for Team Stephen, a roster that included three Golden State Warriors players. Lillard believes that eventually, he’ll get the chance to share the weekend, his third, with teammate C. J. McCollum.
“Each year you see teams are getting two to three, Golden State got four this year,” Lillard said. “But you look at it and say ‘why is that happening’ and it has a lot to do with team success. Me and C.J. just have to take that challenge of making our team win more games. I think when we do that, we’ll be rewarded with both of us making it. If we really want to make that happen, then we’ll do whatever it takes to win more games.
“I feel like this season we’ve moved closer in that direction. In the past, we haven’t even been in the position to get one, because I did not make it the past two years. I think if we keep on improving we’ll eventually get to the point that we’re winning games and people will say ‘how are they doing this’ and then hopefully our names come up. Hopefully, one day, it’ll happen.”
Another issue that got addressed during the All-Star Weekend was the growing tensions between the NBA players and the NBA referees. Representatives from both sides met to address the gap developing on the court, something Lillard felt was necessary.
“We’re all human,” Lillard said. “As competitors, we want to win. If you feel like you got fouled, you want them to call the foul every time. I think sometimes as players, we forget how hard their job can be. At the pace we play, it’s hard to get every call, and then you got guys tricking the referees sometimes, we’re clever too. It’s a tough job for them. I think when we get caught up in our competitive nature, and we forget that they’re not just these robots with stripes, they are people too. You have got to think, as a man if someone comes screaming at you every three plays, you are going to react in your own way. Maybe you’re not going to make the next call; maybe I am going to stand my ground. It’s just something that I think will get better over time. I think both have to do a better job of understanding.”
With 24 games left to play in Lillard’s sixth NBA season, the desire to be more than a playoff team or an All-Star is coming more into focus for Lillard, something he reportedly expressed to Blazers management several weeks ago.
“There are guys that have this record and guys that have done these things, and I want to at least get myself the chance to compete for a championship,” Lillard said. “If I get there and we don’t win it, it happens. A lot of people had to go see about Michael Jordan, a lot of people had to go see about Shaq and Kobe. You know, those great teams, but I have a strong desire to at least give myself a chance to be there. Take a shot at it.”
With All-Star out of the way, the focus in the NBA will switch to the race to the playoffs. As things stand today Lillard and his Blazers hold the seventh seed in the West and are tied with Denver, and just a half of a game back from the five seed Oklahoma City Thunder.
If the Blazers are going to make noise this post season its going to be on the shoulder of Lillard, and based on what he said, it seems he’s up to the challenge.
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NBA Daily: James Harden on the new All-Star Format and Chris Paul Being Snubbed
James Harden shared his thoughts on the new All-Star game format and teammate Chris Paul not being selected as an All-Star
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made a bold decision to alter the All-Star game format. By allowing the two highest voted players in each conference to be team captains, Silver did away with tradition and the usual West versus East format. While there were a few complaints about the switch, fans were seemingly more vocal about the decision to not televise the selection of players by the team captains.
Well, the results are in and praise for new format has been nearly universal. With players more invested in the new format, and perhaps the $100k per player bonus for the winners, the effort level was up, plays were being drawn up and executed and defense made a surprise appearance in an exciting game that came down to the final possession.
2018 NBA All-Star and Houston Rockets guard James Harden spoke about the All-Star game and the new format.
“I think it is exciting. You get an opportunity, you know, for a mixture of guys to play on the same team together. We’re trying to win though, it’s competitive,” Harden stated. “Obviously, the All-Star game has a lot of highlights but we’re trying to win, we’re going to go out there and prove we’re trying to win.”
Harden, who played for Team Stephen, did not get the win. However, Harden also made it clear that playing in the this year’s All-Star game meant even more having grown up in Los Angeles.
“To be able to play in the big boy game means a lot. I grew up, especially being from LA, you grew up watching Kobe, watching Shaq every single year. You see how fun, you see how exciting it was,” Harden said. “Now to be here, to be in the city is more special.”
While Harden made it a point to talk about what it means to play in Los Angeles, another factor he seemed excited and appreciative about was being the first player picked for Team Stephen.
“Man, that’s a great feeling. Just because in middle school I was the last pick. So, to be the number one pick in the All-Star game, that’s what the swag champ is for,” Harden said.
Harden wasn’t universally positive about All-Star Weekend. Specifically, he was not happy about being the only Rockets All-Star – especially considering Houston’s standing in the Western Conference playoff race.
“I have a lot to say about that. What are we talking about? Everyone knows Chris Paul is with the Rockets and the Rockets have the number one [record]. How does that not happen?” Harden asked rhetorically. “It’s frustrating. I know he’s frustrated. He never brings it up. That’s why I did say what I said. He’s never going to bring it up. But, I’ll defend for him. He should be here with me in LA as an All-Star.”
Harden had some success as he led his team in minutes and logged 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds. He spoke after the game and confirmed the reconfiguration of the All-Star game produced a competitive game and a fun product for the fans.
“Felt great. I hope all the fans enjoyed [the All-Star game] as well. It was very competitive. Guys got after it from the beginning of the game. Usually All-Star [games] there are a lot of dunks, a lot of freedom. Tonight was intense,” Harden said.
Harden was not wrong with his conclusion that there was less freedom. With less freedom and better defense played, Harden went 5-19 from the field and 2-13 from three-point range while finishing the game without a single free throw attempted. The lack of free throws may have irked Harden, who is renowned for his ability to get to the line (9.9 free throw attempts per game this season). Adding to that frustration, Harden had the opportunity to put his team ahead with a three-pointer late in the game but failed to connect on the shot. Unsurprisingly, Harden expressed his disappointment with the result.
“I was pissed we lost. I’m still mad,” Harden stated.
On the final play of the game, while ignoring Harden, Curry kept the ball with the chance to tie the game. Curry dribbled into a LeBron James/Kevin Durant double team. Curry wasn’t able to get a shot off and Harden was left with his hands up waiting for a pass and a chance to win the game that never came.
Looking toward next year, Harden was asked if as a possible captain he would prefer to have the player selection two weeks before or right before the game. He thought about it and then smiled.
“Probably right before the game,” Harden answered.
Commissioner Silver has spoken on the subject and is sending strong signals that next year’s selection will be televised. That will potentially add another layer of excitement to the new All-Star game format, which is already paying off for the NBA.