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NBA PM: Greg Monroe’s Limited Market

Greg Monroe is willing to waive his no-trade clause, but trading him is still quite complicated.

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Greg Monroe’s Limited Market

Like most of the players who signed this offseason, Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe became eligible to be traded today. As a 24-year-old versatile big man who has been good for 15 points and nine rebounds a game over the last four seasons despite the turmoil surrounding him, you would think teams would be beating down the Pistons’ door to acquire him. However, his situation is quite unique and it limits his market significantly.

Monroe was a restricted free agent last offseason, which gave the Pistons the right to match any offer he received. The Pistons made him a long-term offer, the value of which is unknown, but it was clearly shy of the max and Monroe decided to decline. There were other teams, specifically the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns, who voiced an interest in trading for him but the Pistons held all the cards. They wanted great value in return in any sign-and-trade deal and had the rest of the league believing that they would match any offer for him to the point where Monroe was eventually forced to accept a $5.5 million qualifying offer.

By virtue of accepting that, Monroe earned a no-trade clause, because his Bird rights would be extinguished with any trade. The Stan Van Gundy era has been just as tumultuous as the previous, though, and now according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, Monroe could care less about retaining his Bird rights, which would make him eligible to receive a five-year max contract if he were able to preserve them.

“Everybody knows he wants out of there,” a source told Deveney. “There is almost nothing he would shoot down.”

At 5-19, the Pistons are the third-worst team in the lowly Eastern Conference, just a game ahead of the New York Knicks and only two and a half ahead of the historically terrible Philadelphia 76ers. Changes are on the horizon in Detroit and Monroe seems like one of the most likely casualties. Unfortunately for him, the teams that he could help the most are not in a position where they can justify trading him.

Any team that is over the cap going into this offseason would basically be giving up valuable assets (the Pistons reportedly want at least a first-round pick for Monroe) for a one-year rental, only to watch him walk away to this highest bidder this offseason. Trading for him only makes sense for a team that is going to have cap space this summer, and is willing to commit a good portion of it to Monroe, who will likely command somewhere close to the four-year max.

The list of teams who fit that criteria and make sense as a long-term fit for Monroe are the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks. The last five would probably have to shed some salary in order to make enough space to keep him, but that would cap them out and give them only the room exception and minimum contracts to use the rest of the offseason. Salary cap projections can change with one swift move, so more teams could join that list before Monroe hits the open market. But, it’s hard to imagine a team giving up a draft pick for Monroe and clearing out the space to keep him. It’d be different if he was a true No. 1 option, but it’s clear at this point that Monroe is a better secondary weapon than primary.

For Monroe, the decision to waive his no-trade clause is simple and without downside, because it’s clear that the Pistons are not going to give him a five-year offer. If they wanted to do so, they would have this offseason when they had exclusive negotiating rights. The Pistons will probably wilt and take back just about anything of value in order to get something for one of the quietly productive big men in the league, but at best only a third of the league would be willing to acquire him in this situation. They could easily just decide to wait until the offseason when they can sign him outright, so even though Monroe is making it clear that he wants to be traded, he could be stuck in Detroit for the rest of the year.

Cousins Reacts to Malone’s Firing

DeMarcus Cousins is set to make his return to the Sacramento Kings’ lineup soon, but much has changed since he went out nine games ago with viral meningitis. The Kings are still one of the biggest surprises in the league, but only now because they suddenly fired Mike Malone, not because they’re winning at a much higher rate than anticipated like they were when Cousins was healthy. Cousins reacted to the firing of Malone today after shootaround; here are the tweets from the members in attendance:

Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro spoke to the media afterward as well and said that the firing was about philosophical differences, not the team’s win-loss record, which is a bit deceiving due to the absence of Cousins. D’Alessandro refrained from committing to interim head coach Ty Corbin for the rest of the season, which will only add fuel to the fire of all the George Karl-to-Kings talk circulating right now.

Wall, Harden named Players of the Week

The Washington Wizards’ John Wall and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Dec. 8, through Sunday, Dec. 14.

Wall led the Wizards to one of the East’s two perfect records on the week at 4-0 (the Chicago Bulls were 3-0). He averaged 18.3 points, a league leading 11.8 assists, and tied for second in the conference with 2.5 steals. Wall recorded three point-assist double-doubles, including a 26-point, 17-assist effort on Dec. 8, as the Wizards topped the Boston Celtics 133-132 in double-overtime. The Wizards’ 4-0 week has vaulted them into the second overall spot in the Eastern Conference at 17-6 (.739), a half-game behind the Toronto Raptors (18-6, .750).

Harden’s league-leading 34.0 ppg on the week helped the Rockets to a 2-1 mark, which included wins over the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 11, and the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 13. He ranked fifth in the conference in assists at 7.3 apg, and second in both steals (2.67 spg) and minutes (41.8 mpg). Harden poured in a season-high 44 points during the Rockets’ 113-109 win over the Kings. It marked the ninth game this season in which Harden connected on 10-or-more foul shots.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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