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NBA AM: Pistons to Lock up Monroe, Trade Smith?

Stan Van Gundy says Pistons have already made decision on free agent to be Greg Monroe. What does that mean for Josh Smith?

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Pistons contemplate locking up Greg Monroe long term, potentially looking to deal Josh Smith?

The top of the 2014 NBA Draft is widely believed to be one of the best in recent memory. Barring a trade, the Detroit Pistons will be on the outside looking in as the lottery picks come off the board Thursday night. The Pistons sent their first round pick to the Charlotte Hornets two years ago in the Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette swap. The pick was top-eight protected, but the Pistons fell to ninth in last month’s draft lottery causing the forfeiture to the Hornets.

While the Pistons may be missing from the top of the draft this season, the franchise has huge decisions looming this summer regarding their future.

Emerging big man Greg Monroe is headed toward restricted free agency and there will be plenty of teams lining up ready to pounce on the 24 year old standout who averaged 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds this past season.

Newly crowned pistons team president Stan Van Gundy says the decision has already been made regarding Monroe’s future with the franchise based on every possible scenario that may arise when free agency opens.

“We’ve been through basically every million-dollar increment of an offer sheet he could get, and what will we do if he takes the option of signing an offer sheet and this is what he comes back with, what will we do,” Van Gundy said according to Ashley Dunkak of CBS Detroit. “To me there’s not going to be any drama in it. We’ve already made that decision. We’ve already talked with ownership, so we know down the road, if July 11, let’s say, he presents us with an offer sheet at whatever dollar, we’ve made the decision already, so we know where we’re going, so there’s no anxiety for us in that.

“Whatever decisions we make in that regard, we know what the implications are for those decisions. We know the advantages and the disadvantages … We’ve got a strategy moving forward.”

The Pistons currently have $33 million in guaranteed salaries on the books next season. Monroe is obviously the biggest priority for the club this summer, but guard Rodney Stuckey is also headed to the land of free agency.

How the Pistons ultimately decide to handle the Monroe situation will speak volumes on the direction of the franchise moving forward. Last summer, then president Joe Dumars locked up versatile forward Josh Smith to a four-year $54 million pact in free agency in a move most felt stunted Monroe’s long term growth. Smith struggled through arguably the most disappointing season of his career and the club recorded another sub .500 campaign.

MUST READ: The 2014-15 NBA Free Agent List

With center Andre Drummond’s continued developments, Van Gundy readily acknowledges Detroit may have a pricey logjam in the frontcourt in the near future.

“If we got three years down the road, Josh would be in the last year of his contract at $13.5,” Van Gundy said. “If Greg went out and got a max offer this year or something close to a max offer and we matched it, then that’s the year that Andre [Drummond] becomes a max player. You could be in a situation where you have three guys who are over $13 million a year on your roster, and there’d be a good chance just because of the duplication and the makeup that one of them is coming off the bench.

“So that’s an interesting scenario and we have looked down the road at that. It’s hard to say that’s the ideal situation because certainly if you’ve got $40-some million in your two front line spots, it really affects what you’re able to do on your perimeter, and you would like a balance on your roster, but we have also come to the conclusion of, again, if that’s what it comes to, that we can deal with that for one year, so I think we’re comfortable with however things go that we’ll be okay.”

But Smith may not be in Detroit long enough for this scenario to fully materialize. An ESPN report surfaced on Tuesday implying the Sacramento Kings would be interested in dealing for Smith.

While nothing is imminent, it does speak volumes the Pistons are eager and willing to listen to overtures for Smith, who was the team’s marquee free agent signing last summer.

Detroit’s only pick in this year’s draft will be the eighth selection in the second round, No. 38 overall.



Are the New York Knicks trying to buy into the first round of the draft?

Flexibility, or the lack of it, is something the New York Knicks will have to work through this summer. The Knicks do not own a pick in this week’s NBA Draft and whether free agent Carmelo Anthony returns to New York or not, the team is still over the salary cap.

However, the team’s current predicament hasn’t stopped the organization from being ambitious in its attempt to become a draft night player.

According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Knicks president Phil Jackson is working the lines trying to buy his way into the draft or use one of his current roster assets for a trade.

New York has roughly $1.8 million in cash to use in order to buy into the draft, while guard Iman Shumpert remains arguably the club’s most attractive asset on the trade circuit.

One player who has reportedly garnered interest within the Knicks’ front office is former University of Florida standout Patric Young, who is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

The Knicks are reportedly high on guard prospects P.J. Hairston (UNC) and Tyler Ennis (Syracuse) as well.

While Young’s offensive game may not translate to the next level, his value as a low post banger and defender is what have pro team intrigued on his potential.

“Big, strong body,’’ ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said according to the report. “Obviously he can hold his position and he’s an excellent post defender. His rebounding numbers won’t wow you. I have him later in the second round, but [he’s a] a guy that you can put in and be physical, set screens.’’

With Anthony headed toward free agency, the Knicks still has close to $67 million in guaranteed salaries on the books for next season. Close to $50 million of this figure is tied to three players – Amar’e Stoudemire ($23,4m), Andrea Bargnani ($11.5m) and Tyson Chandler ($14.6m).

We Have You Covered! NBA Draft Day isn’t just another day on the calendar, it’s Christmas Day for us. And we’ll have everything you need to stay up to date on all the happenings around the draft starting with the 2014 NBA Draft Day Diary featuring up-to-the minute news, notes and rumors; all on one page and all in one place. The diary drops on Wednesday morning and will be updated all the way through the 2014 NBA Draft. Need some more Mock Draft action? A new draft day 60-Pick Mock Draft will drop Wednesday morning as part of the Final Consensus Mock Draft of the season. Want more? Basketball Insiders will have reporters on the ground in New York, posting and tweeting the latest news and interviews with the players invited to the draft, and our first ever Video Mock Draft. As the draft unfolds, we’ll have instant reaction to all of the first round picks including quotes and reaction from the players themselves. If you want to know everything that’s out there – be on Basketball Insiders all day on Draft day.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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