Shortly after closing in on a five-year, $70 million deal to keep Khris Middleton in Milwaukee, the Bucks were turning their attention to luring a big man in free agency, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
After Knicks had sitdown with Greg Monroe in DC shortly after midnight, Milwaukee got its audience with Monroe ... starting at around 2 AM— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2015
Ha! Who needs sleep these days, am I right?
Monroe isn't the perfect big man, but the 25 year-old has an overall talent level that definitely carries some appeal to a young but growing Bucks team. Frank went into more detail on Monroe's strengths and weaknesses a few days ago.
"Overall, Monroe would bring two obvious skills the Bucks have lacked: rebounding and interior scoring. While he's usually labeled as unathletic due to his lack of explosion, the former Georgetown star is actually a pretty good runner and carries his 250+ pounds rather fluidly, especially on the offensive end. He's a major threat either facing up or with his back to the basket, and he's also a good passer capable of initiating offense from the high post. Monroe's only obvious offensive flaw is his lack of range; though he's a good free throw shooter and made a respectable 37.2% of his midrange jumpers last year (29/78), Monroe isn't a floor-stretcher and that's one obvious reason why he simply doesn't make sense playing as an oversized power forward next to a low-skill guy like Drummond.
Defensively, Monroe has been an above-average rebounder throughout his career, averaging a double-double per 36 minutes each of the past four seasons. But he's hardly a prototypical defensive center; he's not a rim protector and doesn't have the quickness to handle quick fours or the ideal size to battle with elite offensive bigs. Nevertheless, his encouraging defensive RPM of +2.29 last season suggests his IQ makes up for a lot, and his splits at center are encouraging on both ends. In 805 minutes playing without Drummond and Josh Smith, Monroe averaged an exceptional 21.6 points/36 minutes on 59.3% true shooting (via NBA Wowy), and the Pistons were actually better defensively with Monroe at center (104.3 pts/100 possessions) vs. Drummond (108.9). Interestingly, they were dramatically better offensively with Drummond in the middle (112.1) than Monroe (106.1), though the bottom line remains that both guys were very good without the other.
In an ideal world everyone wants a rim protector, especially with Jabari Parker a potential major liability at the 4/3 spots, and Monroe simply isn't the type to erase others' mistakes. But he's also no Enes Kanter defensively (more on him in a moment), and he's a vastly better defensive rebounder than anyone currently on the roster. Also remember that the Bucks were a stellar defensive team with Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova starting together for the second half of the season, and the Pistons were good with Monroe in the middle a year ago."
The Bucks weren't the first team to get a meeting with Monroe and still may not be the favorites to sign him, but to be in the mix this early signals that this isn't just pie in the sky type stuff, either. Monroe will have plenty of suitors, so it will be interesting to monitor his relationship with the Bucks as he gets closer to a decision in the coming days.
Should Monroe not work out, the Bucks would still have a few other options. Milwaukee has been linked to Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, and Robin Lopez in the last week or so, though the first listed Lopez is basically a lock to stay in Brooklyn.
It's going to be a fun free agency period, isn't it?