Last season, the Detroit Pistons’ perimeter offense was so bad that Josh Smith wasn’t only taking a load of three pointers out of confusion, he was realistically one of the team’s top three point shooters.
Welcome to the bizarre trainwreck that is the post-Joe Dumars Pistons, Stan Van Gundy.
SVG’s first task will be handling power forward/center Greg Monroe, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent after next season. In his four NBA seasons, the 6’11” Monroe has averaged 14 points and 9 rebounds with 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals. He turns 24 in June and in an NBA lacking young, promising big men, Monroe is an extremely attractive trade target.
With Josh Smith pretty much unmovable given his bulky 4-year contract and Andre Drummond as the most promising centerpiece for the franchise, moving Monroe is the team’s best fiscal and most likely option. In return for the big man, the desired target is most likely a young perimeter player who can help give the team a much-needed extra dimension on the offensive end some Smith can return to the paint.
Here are some of the top options:
Harrison Barnes, SF, Golden State Warriors
With Andre Iguodala signed long term and the Splash Brothers patrolling the perimeter, there’s little room for Harrison Barnes on the Warriors in anything more than a 6th man position. There is - however - the need for a big man who can stay healthy (sorry, Bogut) and play consistently alongside David Lee. Monroe and Lee are two of the best passing big men in the league and while Lee at 31 years old could be seeing his game fall off shortly, Monroe is seven years younger and would be a great fit as a smart power forward/center to grow with Curry and company.
Meanwhile, the Pistons would get a promising scorer and smart player who turns 22 this month, giving them a much needed true small forward, while enabling Smith’s move to power forward.
Dion Waiters, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
I’m one of the supporters of the Irving/Waiters backcourt but there’s been a lot of speculation that Cleveland’s planning on pulling the plug. If they do so, they’re unlikely to find any trade target as attractive as Greg Monroe. Tristan Thompson has developed decently but doesn’t have nearly as much overall potential on the offensive end as the skilled Monroe, who would take a lot of the scoring pressure off Irving.
The Pistons, in turn, would receive a young guard who’s proven he can consistently put up 20 points per game. It would be an awkward fit next to Brandon Jennings, but is Jennings really destined to be the team’s point guard of the future? I don’t think so.
Terrence Ross, SF, Toronto Raptors
2013-14 wasn’t exactly a by-definition breakout campaign for Ross, but he certainly secured his place on the NBA’s radar. He’s a high-flyer with the ability to light it up from the outside - see his 51-point game against the Clippers in January as evidence. I don’t think he’s the proper complement to DeMar Derozan as both players really rely on having the ball in their hands, and it’s unlikely the Raptors would prefer the ball in Ross’s hands over Derozan’s for at least the next few years. Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas are both serviceable big men, but Monroe could really take the team to the next level.
Isaiah Thomas, PG, or Ben McLemore, SG, Sacramento Kings
Thomas is slated to become a free agent this summer and McLemore is of course still on his rookie contract. What the Kings’ plans for the future are is anyone’s guess but they always seem to be ready for a trade, whether it be Rudy Gay, Derrick Williams, or Jason Terry - yes, Terry was in the Marcus Thornton trade for those who forgot.
Assuming Jennings - who had a nightmare of a season last year - isn’t the Pistons’ long term answer at the point guard position, a double sign-and-trade with Monroe and Thomas could be interesting, while the younger McLemore would be a similarly helpful addition to the Pistons’ roster - he was selected just a pick ahead of them in the 2013 NBA Draft. On the other side, DeMarcus Cousins and Monroe could be scary good together.