NBA

NBA PM: Is This Monroe’s Last Year in Detroit?

Greg Monroe discusses his decision to sign the qualifying offer and his future with the Detroit Pistons.

Alex Kennedy profile picture
Updated 12 months ago on
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Are Monroe’s Days in Detroit Numbered?

Media day is usually a time for players and fans to get excited about their NBA team and feel optimistic about the upcoming campaign. Most players are loose and happy since the start of the season is almost here.

However, Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe was probably dreading media day since he didn’t have a particularly good offseason. Not only did free agency not go the way Monroe had hoped, he had some off-court trouble and rumors of discord between him and teammates surfaced.

The 24-year-old spent most of media day discussing his free agency experience, which ended with him turning down a four-year offer from Detroit and signing their one-year qualifying offer. By taking this route, Monroe will make $5.47 million this year and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He also has the right to veto any trade involving him during the 2014-15 season.

“My family and I made the decision,” Monroe said of signing the qualifying offer, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I have an agent who handles that and I don’t feel as a player it’s something I should talk about. Just because I signed a qualifying offer people assume I’m leaving. That’s not the case. … I love Detroit and the people here. I’m looking forward to playing for this coaching staff. There’s no problem with any of my teammates.”

Monroe is referring to the reports that surfaced over the offseason that indicated Monroe didn’t want to return to the Pistons if Josh Smith was still on the roster. While it’s true that Monroe and Smith didn’t exactly mesh on the court last season, everyone involved has insisted that they didn’t have any off-court issues. Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy shot the rumor down over the summer, and Monroe tried to dispel it yesterday as well.

“It wasn’t rumors, it was all lies,” Monroe said. “Because I know what really went on, I’m not worried about it. … I know the truth. At the end of the day, I’m focused on getting ready for the season. All that stuff is behind me. I could [not] really care less. … I went to Josh [Smith] and we talked. He knows what I said and didn’t say.”

Throughout his media availability, Monroe stressed that he could still re-sign with Detroit next summer. The Pistons will be able to offer the most money to the big man, and next offseason is a long time from now, meaning lot can change between now and then. He did say that he likes the vibe that Van Gundy has brought to the organization and that the franchise seems like they’re heading in the right direction.

“This was strictly a decision that was about business and looking at my future,” Monroe said, according to MLive.com. “That doesn’t mean I’m leaving. It’s just a qualifying offer. Everybody assumes you’re automatically leaving because you don’t sign a long-term deal and that’s not the case. That’s basically it.

“The automatic assumption for most people is when you do something like this, you don’t want to be somewhere, or you want to get out of here. Especially with everything that was said this summer in the media, people assume that. But that’s not the case. We might not have been as successful as I wanted to be and people wanted us to be, but I love it here and I love this city, and the people in this organization have been great.”

With that said, there has understandably been a lot of speculation that this will be Monroe’s last season in Detroit. There have even been reports that Monroe wouldn’t have signed a max offer sheet from another team, because he didn’t want the Pistons to match the contract and lock him up for four more years. When asked, Monroe wouldn’t commit to staying in Detroit beyond this season.

Van Gundy made it clear that Monroe’s contract situation won’t have an impact on the team’s rotation. He said that he will determine the starting lineup based on what gives Detroit the best chance to compete, and that means we’ll likely see Monroe and Andre Drummond once again manning the frontcourt for Detroit.

“Greg will be a professional,” Van Gundy said. “He made a decision based on what he thought was best for him. My impression of that decision, as I said, wasn’t driven by greed. I don’t think he was sitting there making his decision based on I’m worth a lot more money. I think he had some things he wanted to accomplish, personally, and he did that. I think Greg’s fully committed to what we’re trying to do.”

Pistons owner Tom Gores is hoping that the two sides can still reach a long-term deal next summer.

“Greg’s a great player, not just a good player,” Gores told The Detroit News. “We want Greg to be on board for a long time. We’ll have a good enough season where we’ll attempt to do that. We talked to his representatives. We said how much we respected Greg as a person. But ultimately it’s Greg’s choice. We were disappointed we couldn’t make the ultimate deal, of course. Just because we didn’t make the deal isn’t the end all.”

Last season, Monroe averaged 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds. He’s a very skilled big man and he’s still young, which means he should have plenty of suitors when he hits the open market next offseason. But for now, he’s just trying to focus on basketball and tune out all of the rumors and drama that have surrounded him for the last two months.

“After everything that has been going on, all I’m focusing on is basketball,” Monroe said. “I feel like right now that stuff is behind me. Nothing can be changed now.”

Gasol Discusses Upcoming Free Agency

In recent years, the NBA has had some entertaining offseasons. A number of high-profile players have switched teams either by free agency or trades, which has fans always looking ahead to the next star players who might be available.

For example, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant has already had to answer questions about being a free agent, which won’t happen until the summer of 2016.

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol received similar questions about his future yesterday at media day, since this is the final year that he’s under contract. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, unless he inks an extension with Memphis.

“I think we’ve got to take it day by day,” Gasol told the Memphis Commercial Appeal about free agency. “We have so many goals and things that we’ve got to do, still. We’ll get there when we get there and then we’ll see how everything is. You guys know how much I love the city, you know how much I love this team and this hasn’t changed, so we’ll see how we feel at the end of the year and we’ll go from there.”

When asked if he would sign an extension rather than hit the open the market, Gasol dodged the question and said he doesn’t know what’s going to happen because that’s a long time from now.

“You don’t know how you’re going to feel seven months from now in June. You don’t know how you’re going to feel and how the season is going to go. But I can tell you how I feel right now, and how happy I am to be here, and how excited I am about the season and the city, and about my teammates. That’s how I feel right now.”

Gasol is one of the best free agents who will be available in next year’s class, along with Kevin Love (who is expected to sign a long-term deal in Cleveland), LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, DeAndre Jordan, Al Jefferson, Brook Lopez and Goran Dragic among others.

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Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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