Should the Pistons have tried to re-sign Monroe?

Feb 8, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe (10) questions referee Ed Malloy (not pictured) after getting a technical foul during the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 8, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe (10) questions referee Ed Malloy (not pictured) after getting a technical foul during the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons did not want Greg Monroe back according to Monroe’s comments in the Baton Rouge Advocate:

"Stan had smaller teams in Orlando (Magic) years ago,” Monroe said. “Dre is like Dwight Howard. So Stan wants to put good players around him. The team has different plans, and I respect that. I don’t want to be anywhere I’m not wanted.”"

It seems like Monroe feels a little burned by the Pistons–the same way the Pistons felt last offseason when he elected to sign a one-year qualifying offer instead of re-signing with the Pistons as a restricted free agent.

It’s funny how things work.

The Pistons decision to let Monroe walk in free agency likely stems from his poor fit with Drummond and the team’s cap space which could have allow them to find a quality player who fit. Much like the Monroe negotiations from a season ago–the Pistons struck out.

That leaves me wondering two things: 1) should the Pistons have tried to re-sign Monroe? 2) Did Monroe have a ‘real’ desire to re-sign with the Pistons?

The dynamics this offseason are much different than last. I think he did want to rejoin the Pistons, at least to some degree.

Last offseason Monroe was stuck on a team with poor floor spacing including Josh Smith and Andre Drummond. Smith still had three years left on his contract at that point and Drummond was (is) the Pistons franchise player. Where did he fit into the equation?

There also wasn’t much of a reason to be optimistic about a return to Detroit. Other other than poor fit, Stan Van Gundy had just been hired and Monroe had been through plenty of coaches before Van Gundy– enough to know that taking a ‘wait and see’ approach in the form of a one-year qualifying offer– was the best direction he could go. Don’t forget the Pistons didn’t have a franchise point guard at that time and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hardly saw the floor.

Why would Monroe have wanted to come back to the Pistons, or any player for that matter? He wants to win and the Pistons had no chance of doing that.

In the Pistons case, they really wanted Greg Monroe back last offseason. Their options and talent were limited and Van Gundy–knowing Drummond, Smith, and Monroe couldn’t play together–wanted to see which players he liked coaching best, and which players he would keep for the future.

Monroe– only 24 at the time and coming off three straight seasons where he averaged at least 15 points and nine rebounds– was an obvious choice to keep and the kind of talent you don’t let walk away for nothing.

Fast forward one offseason and the mindset of both is significantly different. Monroe has a desire to return to the Pistons–though most probably think there still wasn’t enough of a chance for that to happen despite his comments.

Maybe they are just comments, but I’m sure there’s some part of Monroe that wanted to come back and play.

Look at how the Pistons changed in just one season: They Subtract Smith, added Jackson, Caldwell-Pope flashed enough potential to show that he could space the floor, Ersan Ilyasova was added to space the floor, and the Pistons added a talented small forward in Stanley Johnson with their first round pick. The future–for the first time in Monroe’s tenure with Detroit– looked promising.

Had the Pistons offered a max deal, he might of re-signed.

But the Pistons couldn’t bank on ‘might re-sign’ and therein lies the problem. Monroe never gave the Pistons enough to feel strong about re-signing him.

Instead, the Pistons were able to reinvent themselves with the moves mentioned above while also spending less on Monroe’s replacement on Ilyasova who also has a shorter contract. They also had enough cap space to sign a player to a max player if they desired or bring in pieces to bridge the gap for Johnson while he’s developing so it’s easy to see why there was such a lack of interest from their side.

Hindsight is always 20-20, but knowing what we know now (the market there was for Monroe and the Pistons inability to sign a big-time player) I wish the Pistons would have made an attempt at re-signing him. That way the Pistons don’t lose such a talented player for nothing. More importantly they could have traded him at some point in the season for something.

Maybe the Pistons offer Monroe a max and he accepts. It’s not far fetched–the Pistons could offer him more than any other team and Detroit’s roster has a future–enough so that winning doesn’t seem out of reach if by definition ‘winning’ means making the playoffs.

This would then allow Detroit to trade him to the Knicks, Lakers, Trail Blazers, or Bucks (who he eventually signed with) later in the season when Van Gundy inevitably decides that things aren’t working out.

This also means that the Pistons couldn’t have taken on the players from the Suns in a salary dump effort, but I’m not a huge fan of Marcus Morris anyway–the last thing this young roster needs is to bring in someone with a felony assault and who’s this disrespectful to their coach.

I don’t blame the Pistons for their lack of interest in re-signing Monroe. Nor do I feel bad for Monroe who found a max deal on a team with a bright future in the Bucks– just as the Pistons looked to be turning a corner.

It was probably better this way for both sides in the long run. The Pistons aren’t in a bad spot–despite what some of the most negative fans will tell you– and neither is Monroe.

Next: How much money do the Pistons have left?

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