A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Greg Monroe for Eric Bledsoe would be a solid S&T for both teams

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It’s late August and Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe are still not signed, which is turning into a mess for Detroit and Phoenix. Either Monroe or Bledsoe taking the qualifying offer is the worst case scenario for both teams, as if they walked in unrestricted free agency they wouldn’t receive value in return for their asset.

I like the idea of just swapping Monroe and Bledsoe personally, even if this idea seems unlikely due to the lack of momentum in the press about it.

Detroit’s end

The Pistons suddenly teaming up Eric Bledsoe and Andre Drummond’s elite athleticism would give them an exciting direction going forward. In the drafts since acquiring Drummond, they took Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2013 and had to surrender their lottery pick to Charlotte in 2014. Although I’m a big fan of their 2014 2nd round pick Spencer Dinwiddie, they’re lacking the supporting young talent to go around Drummond. Getting it through trade with Bledsoe may be the direction to go.

The argument against is fit, as Detroit has Brandon Jennings 2 year 16.3 million contract, which is already one of the most unmoveable contracts in the league, a situation that would get worse if backing up Bledsoe. Presumably giving Bledsoe the max contract he wants could also scare them for the same reason it did Phoenix, because of some injury issues so far in his career.

Nevertheless, Jennings problem is a short term problem. Within a year it’s an expiring deal and easy to move on from. Jennings and Bledsoe may also be able to share time in a small backcourt, like Dragic and Bledsoe did this year in Phoenix. I see it as the right move to grab the talent upgrade in Bledsoe and wait for the opportunity to move on from the Joe Dumars mistakes Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons won’t be rebuilt in a day and don’t have to be a perfect fit immediately. Yet with Bledsoe and Drummond along with pieces like Jodie Meeks and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the pieces seem in place. It would also make the Pistons expected to make the playoffs next year, which may be important to ownership after disappointing seasons lately.

Phoenix’s end

There’s a few reasons why Phoenix may be lukewarm on this deal. First Monroe is not a perfect fit as they have two young centers in Alex Len and Miles Plumlee who’d move down the depth chart, with Len’s minutes especially unguaranteed. In the meantime however Monroe starting at C beside Markieff Morris is an upgrade, giving them passing and post skills to compliment Phoenix’s perimeter penetrating and shooting skills. Some minutes could be opened up for Plumlee and Len by playing Monroe at power forward in some matchups.

Financially Monroe may be asking for upwards of 11 or 12 million to do this deal for a player who’s game has stagnated in recent years. For his strengths like post scoring, ability to drive past defenders with ballhandling skills and passing, he neither spaces the floor especially well or provides defensive impact, a combination that is scary in the modern game. Monroe is a poor man’s Al Jefferson or Zach Randolph, the question as he goes into his prime is whether that’s still enough to pay a premium contract.

However, signing Monroe to a long term deal may also give Phoenix some needed stability. The core of their team last year in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe is in doubt long term. In addition to their Bledsoe issues, because Dragic is so underpaid right now, the Suns can’t offer him an extension high enough for him to consider taking – Toronto faced a similar dilemma with Kyle Lowry last year. Although Dragic clearly likes Phoenix enough for him to return there last time he was a free agent, it’s never easy to see a player enter unrestricted free agency where any matter of large offers from contenders could be thrown at him. Toronto was able to have a division winning, franchise record season, promising Lowry a slew of winning seasons in upcoming years. Phoenix is in danger of becoming an also-ran non-playoff team next year, making it less appealing to Dragic. By trading for an established player like Monroe instead of S&Ting Bledsoe for draft picks or young players, it may help them resign Dragic next year, or give them a fallback option of an Isaiah Thomas-Greg Monroe core to rebuild with if he leaves.

Although it depends on what Phoenix’s other offers for Bledsoe are, I’d say you can certainly do worse than acquiring a starting big in Greg Monroe and then going from there.

For now this trade is a fantasy, but I’d say for both it’s certainly preferable to their player taking a qualifying offer.

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Written by jr.

August 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm

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