Playoff contenders looking to add some size, scoring and talent for a stretch run got a new possibility to consider on Wednesday night: bruising, playmaking big man Greg Monroe.
As the Phoenix Suns prepared to take on the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, multiple Suns reporters noted that Monroe — the 27-year-old power forward/center Phoenix imported from the Milwaukee Bucks in the deal that shipped Eric Bledsoe to Wisconsin — was not with the team. Shortly thereafter, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the reason why: Monroe and the Suns had agreed to a buyout of the remaining $7 million or so owed to him through the end of this season. Rather than just keep cashing checks and circling the drain, Monroe evidently decided that “taking a bit of a hit” was worth it to get the chance to hit the waiver wire, where he’s expected to draw quite a bit of interest from teams in the playoff hunt.
Monroe’s seen his minutes and role reduced over the last two seasons, as the changing nature of the game has turned “traditional” big men — those who do their best work with their backs to the basket, operating from the elbows and in, and who don’t shoot from the perimeter, can struggle defending in space and don’t provide elite rim protection in the paint — into difficult players to build around. But the former Georgetown standout has worked to make the most of his limited opportunity, first as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate during the Bucks’ playoff run last year, and then as a finisher, rebounder and all-around good soldier playing out the string on a going nowhere Suns team, for whom he averaged 11.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 23.3 minutes per game over 20 appearances, shooting a blistering 62.6 percent from the floor.
Teams hoping to play deep into spring and summer, and eager to bolster their frontcourt rotation and second unit, will likely come hard after Monroe once he clears waivers … with a lot of plugged-in NBA types have identifying one team in particular that would seem to be a match:
Market will be robust for Greg Monroe–and Boston, armed with an $8.4 million DPE, will likely be an aggressive suitor. Celtics need a big, and Monroe has killed them in years past.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) February 1, 2018
Look for the #Celtics to have interest in Greg Monroe, a definite post presence, can score around the rim and showed in MIL and PHX he can come off the bench. Also, would love to join winning situation.
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) February 1, 2018
Celtics obvious potential target for Greg Monroe post-buyout. Cavs have been on the hunt for a big man before the trade deadline as well.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 1, 2018
That the Celtics currently lead the Eastern Conference, could use some more complementary offense behind top gun Kyrie Irving, could stand to improve upon the combination of Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis behind All-Star pivot Al Horford, and have the most money available to spend thanks to the $8.4 million disabled player exception they received after losing Gordon Hayward for the year on opening night all make Boston an exceedingly reasonable potential suitor for Monroe’s services. But they’re not likely to be the only one. Other teams with playoff aspirations and the need for a jolt might include the Oklahoma City Thunder, who could use a top-flight backup behind starter Steven Adams, and the New Orleans Pelicans, who just lost All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins for the season and would offer Monroe a chance to spend the rest of the season playing in his hometown.
Now that there’s an agreement in place, Woj reports that Monroe will officially be placed on waivers on Thursday, starting the clock on the 48-hour period in which he can be claimed. Provided he makes it through those two days, Monroe would then hit the open market on Saturday, which means teams with their sights set on picking up a big-ticket item can plan on doing some weekend shopping.
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