NBA PM: Pistons, Monroe Staying in Constant Contact


There is a lot of waiting that comes with being a restricted free agent. Offer sheets can’t be signed until the end of the moratorium period, which is on July 10, and after that the restricted free agent’s original team can take up to three days to decide whether they want to match.

In a summer like this, being a restricted free agent requires even more patience.

The market is at a virtual standstill right now as teams wait for the major dominoes to fall. Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Bosh all seem to be on the fence while fielding multiple offers. It could be before the end of the week now before we find out what their final decisions are. Then, and only after then, will restricted free agents like Greg Monroe start to get concrete offers.

The only certainty for Monroe right now is that the Pistons want him back.

“We’re still in talks with Greg,” Pistons president of basketball operations and head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I really don’t know what else to say on that. We’re still in talks with Greg, we talk to him on a regular basis, we talk to his agent on a regular basis and there are so many things that can happen in those restricted free agent situations so obviously both sides want to get something that’s good for both sides.

“We want Greg Monroe back, but it’s obviously got to be a mutual thing, too. There’s no hesitation there. From day one, I think Greg can tell you I went down and met with him; he was the first player I met with. I went down and met with him within a few days of getting the job and made it clear to him when we met with him in Miami, we made it clear to him that we want him back and we haven’t wavered on that at all. There has been a lot of back and forth; I think it’s been productive and good. There is no doubt on my part or on our part on the basketball side of things that we want him back.

“It comes down to the business part of the game, that’s what it comes down to. I think that’s always a different thing than just the coaching and playing side. There is a business part of it and that’s where we are right now and these things are a big part of it. You take your summer and you do your business and there are several things that can happen and you go from there.”

The business side of things have made it hard for Van Gundy to focus on doing any kind of coaching during summer league, although based on his experience level it’s unlikely he would have coached the team anyway. That’s really only become common practice for first-year head coaches, not proven vets like Van Gundy.

“I’ve been to a little of the practices last week but not much,” Van Gundy said. “Basically Bob [Beyer] has been running that with Brendan [Malone] and Charles [Klask] and Art [Luptowski] our advanced scout; they’ve done 99 percent of the coaching. I’m dealing with more of the other stuff, but it’s still good to be around and see guys and see how they work. Hopefully when we get the bulk of our business done in terms of free agency and roster being put together and staff being hired and all of those things then it can become a lot more to the coaching side.”

If the Pistons end up retaining Monroe, Van Gundy’s challenge is to either find a way to make the frontcourt of him, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond work, or find a way to move Smith’s massive contract. Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported that Van Gundy’s decision could be heavily influenced by Monroe’s desire to play without Smith. Lowe reported that Monroe’s camp has made it clear that they’ll sign for the one-year qualifying offer if Smith remains on the roster. Van Gundy was adamant, though, that no such request has been made.

“It wasn’t true,” Van Gundy said. “As I said, we’ve been in constant conversation with Greg and his agent, not one time have either one of them voiced any displeasure about Josh Smith. Not at any time have either one of them intimated that Greg didn’t want to play with Josh so Greg was very bothered when that stuff came out, which I understand because it’s a teammate. Its one thing you wouldn’t like it even if you said it, but if you didn’t say it then it’s really troublesome. He’s never said that to any of us talking to him throughout this situation.”

At 24 years of age, the market for Monroe should be competitive. He’s averaged right around 15 points, nine rebounds and two assists a game for the last three years. At 24 years of age, he’s arguably the top young big man on the market and two of his classmates, Eric Bledsoe and Gordon Hayward – also restricted free agents – seem poised to receive max contract offers. That gives Monroe’s camp the leverage to ask for the same, given how his production and future potential is at least on par with theirs. As much as it seems like a formality that he’ll receive that kind of offer, the Pistons still seem intent on letting the market set the price. They want to make sure they have to offer the max to keep him, rather than just offering it outright and avoiding the whole offer sheet process altogether.

“I’m not going to get into the business side of things,” Van Gundy said. “I’m certainly not going to help other teams in terms of building their strategy or anything else. I’m just going to say Greg Monroe is a very important piece of the puzzle in Detroit and that we want him back very much. We’ll see what happens over the next weeks, months or whatever it takes.

“We’re prepared for every eventuality along the way. I think that our strategy has been clear from the start. We know exactly where we’re headed; we’re in touch with Tom [Gores] every single day on this thing, so he knows exactly what’s going on. He’s had his ideas on it, too. This has been a major offseason issue for us as a staff and ownership has been involved every step of the way and will continue to be.”

Unfortunately, all there really is to do is wait at this point. Any hope of having this done quickly after the end of the moratorium period takes a hit with every day the top tier free agents take to make their choice.


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