The Future Of Greg Monroe

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January 23, 2016: Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) shoots a lay up against New Orleans Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca (42) during the NBA game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA. (Photograph by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

Eric Bledsoe was the headliner of Tuesday’s trade between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. In return for the point guard, the Suns got back the still-productive Greg Monroe on an expiring contract (plus picks).

Monroe is still only 27 years old, and he found a nice niche with the Bucks as a post scorer coming off the bench. Last season, he averaged 11.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in only 22 minutes a night. Both his scoring and rebounding increased in the playoffs.

Monroe does not fit into the Suns’ rebuilding timeline, and Phoenix should look to move him for more assets if at all possible. Where are the likeliest destinations for Monroe?

These moves are all about asset-collection for Phoenix, and time will tell if they are willing to take on longer deals to obtain more draft picks.

The Future Of Greg Monroe

Philadelphia 76ers

Suns trade Greg Monroe and his expiring deal ($17.88 million)

76ers trade Jahlil Okafor (expiring deal – $5 million) and a 2018 second-round pick (originally from the Houston Rockets)

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, the Suns are interested in taking on former top-3 pick Okafor as a reclamation project. As a rookie (only two years ago!), Okafor averaged 17.5 points and 7 rebounds a night.

Okafor is still only 21 years old. The Suns would be right to see if he has any untapped potential before he becomes an unrestricted free agent this off-season. If the Suns believe Okafor is part of their plan going forward, they could also take on Amir Johnson‘s expiring ($11 million) instead of a pick.

Monroe would give the Sixers a viable offensive hub off the bench and another veteran presence to help in their quest for a playoff spot. Plus, he comes off the books after the season, maintaining cap space for 2018 free agency.

If the Suns are willing to take on longer contracts in return for picks…

Washington Wizards

Suns trade Monroe

Wizards trade Ian Mahinmi (three years, $48 million through ’19-20 season) and their 2019 unprotected first-round pick

The Wizards bench still needs a boost. Mahinmi is making too much money, and Washington has shown a willingness to trade picks to cut contracts in the past. Monroe would help their bench immensely and contribute during a playoff run.

The Suns would mess up their cap space, but any free agent they could get right now does not really fit the big-picture rebuild. The first-round pick is a sweetener.

New York Knicks

Suns trade Monroe

Knicks trade Joakim Noah (three years, $55.6 million through ’19-20 season), a 2018 second-round pick and 2019 first-round pick, both unprotected

Okay, so this is the Wizards trade on steroids. Would Phoenix be willing to take on the worst contract in the NBA? That 2019 pick is tantalizing. The Suns would run the risk of New York improving via free agents with the extra cap space, making this pick less valuable.

The Knicks would *love* this deal, as they can get rid of that contract + open up more minutes for sophomore center Willy Hernangomez.

New Orleans Pelicans

Suns trade Monroe

Pelicans trade Omer Asik (three years, $34 million through ’19-20 but the last year is only partially guaranteed at $3 million instead of ~ $12 million) and their unprotected 2018 first-round pick

Picture this: The Pels go all in with the Anthony Davis/DeMarcus Cousins tandem. They move the Asik contract and get Monroe, a valuable scorer who can stabilize their bench. This move helps them: a) earn a playoff spot b) maximize cap space to re-sign Boogie.

If New Orleans does make the playoffs, that pick would probably fall in the late-teens. Not a bad gamble if you can retain free-agent-to-be Cousins.

For Phoenix, the Asik deal is not horrible. $11 million per still leaves you with decent cap space. Also, a first-round pick at, say, 18th overall is a pretty good return on Monroe.

To make any of these moves more feasible, the Suns would need to move Tyson Chandler‘s contract.

The deal with the Sixers makes the most sense for both sides.

If no team is willing to trade assets for Monroe, the Suns would probably just buy him out, freeing him to sign with any team.

One thing is for certain; Monroe will be a Sun for long.

 

*per-game stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com and contractual info via spotrac.com*

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