Over a month into the free agency period, restricted free agent Greg Monroe and the Detroit Pistons remain stuck with both sides failing to arrive on an amount for an extension. It calls to mind another restricted free agent looking for a bigger deal in the desert.
Via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, Monroe and the Pistons remain at an impasse and are not negotiating with each other at the moment:
The Pistons have moved from the initial five-year, $60-million offer and an offer that’s slightly better on a per-year basis than the four-year, $54-million deal that Josh Smith signed last summer is on the table.
But the offer to make him the highest paid player on the roster hasn’t brokered an agreement. And negotiations aren’t ongoing.
The impasse could last into next month unless a sudden sign-and-trade materializes. There were discussions with the Blazers early in the process and Yahoo! Sports reported recently that brief discussions with Suns and Hawks didn’t gain traction. That’s probably because the Pistons are placing a premium on Monroe that teams so far have proven unwilling to pay.
Monroe is 24, and coming off a season in which he started all 82 games, averaging 15.2 points, 9.3 rebounds per game while shooting 49.7 percent from the field. Those numbers certainly don’t reflect a player worthy of a max contract, but teams have overpaid before to bet on the future potential of young big men — or a wing player, like Utah matching Charlotte’s max offer for Gordon Hayward — and Monroe definitely falls into that category.
His situation is similar to what’s happening in Phoenix at the moment, where fellow restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe is also seeking a max deal with the Suns offering a more respectable — according to some executives around the league — four-year, $48 million deal. In fact, there’s been talk Bledsoe may simply accept the one-year, $3.7 million qualifying offer and hit unrestricted free agency next summer.
This is the tricky situation with restricted free agency. Players expect the max, but teams usually hold the leverage to make a long-term offer for less than the maximum allowable under the CBA. Monroe and Bledsoe can sign an offer sheet somewhere else, but the market for teams with cap space is shrinking exponentially.
It will be interesting if Bledsoe accepts the qualifying offer. It appears the free agency process has put a dent in his relationship with the team, and if he does come back on a one-year deal, the Suns will likely lose him next summer.
Monroe will also have to decide whether it’s worth it to delay signing a big-money contract for one year, sign the qualifying offer, and do this again next summer when he’ll be free to sign with any team of his choosing.
Most likely, both Bledsoe and Monroe will end up accepting the long-term deals on the table and all the talk of fractured relationships between player and team will be forgotten. We’ve seen this narrative play out in restricted free agency before, and we’ll see it again. The risk of injury, or a decline in production, is simply too high to thumb a nose at a long-term deal, and teams take advantage of the bind RFA’s like Monroe and Bledsoe inherit.
Should Monroe sign the qualifying offer and take his chances?
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