Correction: A qualifying offer must be for at least two seasons, not including option years. So, this wouldn’t work (hat tip: Dave King of Bright Side of the Sun).
However, Monroe could seek a watered-down version of this plan — a large two-year offer sheet with the second year unguaranteed. That would be less appealing, because if he plays well, he’d remain under team control for two seasons rather than one, and if he doesn’t play well, he’d be a free agent. But the underlying principle — a shorter contract with a higher salary — remains in tact.
In order to make Monroe a restricted free agent, the Pistons had to extend him a qualifying offer. Essentially, that’s a one-year, $5,479,934 contract offer that Monroe can accept at any time. If he does, he’d become an unrestricted free agent following the season.
Often called the nuclear option in these talks, the qualifying offer allows Monroe to threaten the Pistons with a dire consequence if they don’t offer him a reasonable contract. However, signing the qualifying offer would defer Monroe’s big payday a year — or longer if he gets injured or struggles on the court next season.
Monroe shouldn’t actually sign the qualifying offer, though. He easily could find a team to sign him for one year and $6 million — probably more. If he really wants to go the one-year route and become an unrestricted free agent in 2015, he shouldn’t settle for just the $5,479,934 salary. The Pistons should, and I think would, match any such offer, making the result similar to a qualifying offer — just with a higher salary for Monroe.
However, either arrangement would leave both Monroe and Detroit in binds.
Monroe still would be on a one-year contract and have no long-term security. And the Pistons couldn’t trade Monroe without his consent. (If he signs a[n offer sheet]
qualifying offer, they can’t trade him to the team that signed him at all.)