Jan 7, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Kenyon Martin (3) strips ball from Detroit Pistons power forward Greg Monroe (10) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. New York Knicks defeat the Detroit Pistons 89-85. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Greg Monroe's limitations lend to free agency stalemate

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Rob Mahoney at SI.com writes:

It’s worth wondering, though, if part of the reason Monroe is still available is because of how difficult it would be to build a contender around him. There are those star players with skill sets so unique as to create inconvenience. The challenge in constructing a great team around Monroe transcends that concern, perhaps to the point of impracticality. It must be stressed that Monroe is a good player — a very good one, by some standards, and clearly valuable in the right context. Establishing that context, however, seems to require resources so precise as to obstruct high-level teambuilding.

If you’re interested in the dynamics behind why Monroe (and to a lesser extent Eric Bledsoe) remain unsigned, I’d advise reading the entire piece. With Monroe, Mohaney makes some very good points on how, oddly, he’s become an odd fit around the NBA.

We always talk about how “throwback” players are a good thing, but the NBA is also a copycat league, and throwback isn’t always in vogue.

Monroe is the kind of player who could play in any era. He’s a good rebounder and one of the few big men in the NBA who still seem to enjoy working exclusively out of the post. He has limitations athletically and defensively, but he’s a talented player who would be more well thought of if he hadn’t been engulfed  in Detroit’s mess.

But the NBA game evolves with every era, and eras come at you quick. As the years have gone on, the game has sped up and the big players have become more perimeter oriented. When Miami really got themselves going with LeBron James playing power forward a few years ago, the rest of the league followed.

When teams started employing power forwards who could stretch the floor all the way to the 3-point line, the rest of the league began to follow suit.

Unfortunately for Monroe, he’s fits neither of those descriptions — and that’s the issue.

Mahoney hits on it plenty in his piece; Monroe is stuck in an awkward situation. I’d say he’s better off being somewhere he can be utilized as a center — which isn’t Detroit — but most NBA teams don’t build their rosters around centers who aren’t rim-protecting defenders.

Monroe deserves to be paid a good amount. Whether that’s a max-level contract is up for discussion. What I don’t totally buy is the notion that Monroe is some sort of dinosaur player who has no place in this world.

Good coaches want talented players like Monroe, and a good coach can find a place for him to excel.

Who knows if that coach will be Stan Van Gundy, though. If this were fantasy basketball, we could just deal Monroe to Phoenix for an uber-unhappy Eric Bledsoe. Pay them both max money — something of a necessary evil in today’s NBA — and hope your team can excel.

The Suns say no to that deal because they’re one of those trendy teams who stretch the floor to extreme proportions, but I like fantasy basketball. I also hate watching two of the league’s bright young players flounder in the depths of late-July free agency.

It’s been typed thousands of times on this site, but Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond aren’t going to work together. My question to you all is, why hasn’t anyone else decided that Monroe would work for them?

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Tags: Andre Drummond Eric Bledsoe Greg Monroe Josh Smith Stan Van Gundy

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