Report: Greg Monroe Wants Josh Smith Traded

07.02.14 4 years ago 7 Comments
Josh Smith, Greg Monroe

Josh Smith, Greg Monroe (John E. Sokolowski, USATODAY Sports)

Lineups featuring Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond were disastrous for the Detroit Pistons last season, and one of has them has ambitions to do something about it. According to Grantland’s Zach Lowe, Monroe has informed Detroit officials that he will take a one-year qualifying offer as opposed to signing an extension with the team if Smith is playing for the Pistons in 2014-2015.

Lowe reported this juicy tidbit while assessing news that Detroit has shown an interest in signing Sacramento Kings restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas.

Reading between the lines, a sign-and-trade involving [Isaiah] Thomas and Josh Smith may be in the works, and multiple sources say Monroe’s camp has made it known Monroe will sign the one-year qualifying offer if Smith remains on the roster. Monroe’s camp denies that, and that kind of empty threat is not atypical from top restricted free agents. It’s really their only form of leverage.

Regardless of whether or not Monroe’s attempted manipulation is hollow or even true is mostly beside the point. He spoke to the latter on twitter shortly after Lowe’s report gained widespread traction.

Where there’s smoke is at least the beginning of fire, and that Monroe apparently understands the deficiencies Smith presents the Pistons going forward is most important here. Smith signed a four-year, $54 million contract with Detroit last summer, but that was under the organization’s previous front office regime and before it became painfully obvious that he couldn’t successfully coexist with Monroe and Drummond.

The Pistons were outscored by 8.0 points per 100 possessions for the 1,361 minutes that they shared the floor in 2013-2014, second-worst among the team’s 25 trios that notched at least 500 minutes. And though concerns that the limited floor spacing Smith-Monroe-Drummond provide would doom Detroit’s offense ultimately proved prophetic, it was the other end of the floor where they really struggled. The Pistons’ ill-fated triumvirate posted an offensive rating less than a point worse than the team’s overall mark, but a defensive rating 3.0 points short of average. Yikes.

Smith, Monroe, and Drummond clearly can’t play together, and the considerable individual talents of each means they won’t be comfortable coming off the bench. Conventional wisdom said that Stan Van Gundy’s best chance to split his post surplus would be to sign-and-trade Monroe this summer given the belief that J-Smoove’s deal was close to un-movable. But that was before reports surfaced in late June that Detroit and Sacramento were discussing a deal involving Smith, a scenario that Lowe’s story supports.

Players of Monroe’s caliber simply don’t sign qualifying offers, especially when they’re so highly-sought on the free agent market.

Though the Pistons obviously have the option to match any offer Monroe signs and thus retain him, he’d be risking too much by accepting the QO and taking a pay decrease for next season before testing the waters of unrestricted free agency a year from now. There’s a chance Monroe will receive a max contract offer; if he regresses or even stalls for Detroit in 2014-2015, it’s unlikely teams will value him that highly at this time next year.

Despite the unlikelihood that Monroe would go the route reported and his insistence that Lowe’s sources are misinformed, this certainly adds fuel to the fire that its only a matter of time before Smith and the Pistons part ways. Let’s see if that potential trade with the Kings is the means of his departure from Detroit.

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