Greg Monroe will clear waivers soon and hit the free agent market where he will be a highly sought after commodity by playoff contenders. The center was bought out by the Suns on Wednesday night in a curious move considering the trade deadline is still a week away, which may indicate Phoenix needs his roster spot to execute another deal we don’t know about yet.
In any case, the veteran big man who is averaging just over 10 points and seven boards per game will have interest from a number of contenders looking to bolster their frontcourt rotations. The Celtics were quickly rumored to be the frontrunners for Monroe’s services, as he could provide them a bench scorer in the paint they otherwise don’t have playing the likes of Aron Baynes.
However, there will be other teams involved trying to woo him to join their squad for the stretch run. Among those possible suitors for Monroe’s services are the New Orleans Pelicans, who have a hole they need to fill in the wake of DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending Achilles injury.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans are picking up steam in the Monroe sweepstakes because they are able to offer him a starting job.
New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry spoke to Monroe in the aftermath of his contract buyout with the Phoenix Suns late Wednesday night, and New Orleans will continue to make an aggressive push to sign Monroe, league sources said.
The Pelicans’ ability to offer Monroe the chance at a starting job — in his childhood hometown — is making for a compelling case with Monroe, league sources said.
While the Pelicans can offer Monroe a starting job, the better question is if they should. The reason Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins worked as a twin towers pairing is that they are both mobile and able to stretch the floor to the three-point line. That allows one player to work on the perimeter (often times that was Cousins), while the other operated in the paint and as a roll man (usually Davis).
This season, Cousins has taken 37 percent of his shot attempts from 20-feet away from the basket or further. Monroe is a much more traditional center in terms of having to play at a slower pace and rarely steps outside to shoot, as 91 percent of his attempts this season have come from within 10 feet of the rim and he has gone 0-of-1 on shots outside 20 feet. The other problem is Monroe is far from a defensive stalwart and would force Davis to defend power forwards and be the primary rim protector at the same time, which is very difficult to do.
Trying to fit Monroe into the Cousins role seems like shoving a round peg into a square hole, as they are vastly different players. That’s not to say Monroe wouldn’t be able to help the Pelicans, but he isn’t nearly the complementary fit next to Davis as Cousins was. If he were to come off the bench for New Orleans, I think that would work better, but inserting him into the starting lineup may cause more difficulties for Davis on both ends of the floor than most would expect.