Me at the Detroit Free Press on Greg Monroe:
This stalemate was to be expected. Though it’s possible that negotiations have grown contentious, the lengthy talks themselves in no way signal a problem.
Monroe wants a max contract, which he should. The Pistons don’t want to give him one, which they shouldn’t.
Not that the Pistons shouldn’t give Monroe a max contract. They just shouldn’t want to, which is why we’re stuck.
Due to Monroe’s restricted status, the Pistons can match any offer Monroe receives from another team. Logically, their strategy should be — and seems to be — letting Monroe sign an offer sheet and then matching it. If that requires matching a max offer, so be it. Otherwise, they can keep him at a lower price.
That arrangement would be fine for Monroe — if he can find a team willing to give him a max offer. However, just two teams — the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns — have enough salary cap space left to do that. It’s too soon for the rebuilding 76ers to splurge on a player as polished as Monroe, and he’s not an ideal fit for the up-tempo Suns, though there have been rumors of Phoenix pondering a sign-and-trade.
Monroe is running out of outside suitors — if he hasn’t already — which almost certainly is why we’re stuck.
Monroe can’t find a team to give him a max contract, so he has lost a lot of leverage. Without their hand being forced, the Pistons won’t just give him a max deal themselves.
So now what?
The primary option is for the Pistons and Monroe to negotiate a long-term contract, but considering neither side is compelled to give in anytime soon — the season doesn’t begin for months — it could take awhile.
The Pistons likely will claim that they tried to let the market dictate Monroe’s value, and he hasn’t brought back any offer sheet. Maybe he’s not as valuable as he believes. After all, Gordon Hayward signed a max offer sheet, and Chandler Parsons received a near-max offer sheet. So teams are willing to pursue restricted free agents. Why hasn’t anyone come after Monroe yet?
But that point is valid only to a degree.
Although Monroe can play center, typically the position most in demand, small forward just happens to be thin among teams that had cap space this summer. That opened the door for Hayward and Parsons. It doesn’t mean that Monroe is unworthy of a large contract.
And that’s just a taste of the issues that could come up. Plenty of time remains for both sides to deliberate and be stubborn if they choose.
Of course, a sign-and-trade remains a possibility, allowing even teams without cap space to enter the picture. But that option has been available for Monroe all along, and it has gone nowhere so far. The Pistons should demand a return in any sign-and-trade commensurate to what they’d accept with Monroe already under contract — though that, obviously, would cool potential suitors.
Plenty of options still exist. Nearly all of them require Monroe and the Pistons meeting in the middle, and it takes time for equilibrium to set.