The Pistons not making a move at the trade deadline probably was OK.
Unless it was an utter disaster.
Sure, it would have been nice if the Pistons unloaded Josh Smith or got value for the expiring contracts of Rodney Stuckey or Charlie Villanueva. But missing those opportunities won’t cost the team in the long run. This summer, Smith’s contract will be shorter and more tradable, and Stuckey and Villanueva will come off the books and offer enough salary cap room to add an impact player.
But not trading Greg Monroe? If that was a mistake, it’s irreversible.
Hopefully, it wasn’t a mistake.
For the record, I wanted the Pistons to keep Monroe. I believe he can play with Andre Drummond (though with Smith at small forward), and I like Monroe’s efficiency-based skill set. He obviously needs work defensively, and he’s not a great athlete. But at 23, he likely hasn’t peaked.
However, as I’ve said since the extension deadline passed in October, the Pistons should keep Monroe past the trade deadline only if they’re willing to give him a max contract this summer.
Now, I wonder how certain the Pistons are about Monroe. Did they decide they’d pay him max money if necessary? Or does Gores just want the team to make that choice when he sees fit, regardless of how big a bind the timing puts the team in? This was the last chance to trade Monroe in a non-sign-and-trade, so deferring the decision would only mean fewer options.
Complicating matters, the Pistons might have a new general manager when Monroe hits free agency. After Gores stepped in to fire Cheeks, Joe Dumars might not carry the same power within the organization anymore. Could he even trade Monroe if he wanted to?
Hopefully, someone in the front office who will remain there this summer — even if it’s Gores himself — drove the decision to keep Monroe and did so for all the right reasons. This would be simpler if the Pistons had a more stable general manager, someone executing a multiyear plan. If they don’t, though, the responsibility falls to Gores to ensure that the long term is accounted for.
If the Pistons made a conscious choice to keep Monroe because they’re willing to give him a max contract, we’re fine here. But if they’re just delaying their assessment of Monroe’s value, they’re asking for trouble this summer.