For months we've been hearing that It was only a matter of time before Greg Monroe became a New York Knick. Just 24 hours into the NBA's free agent negotiating period it appears Phil Jackson and company might have a bit of competition.
Among the teams still vying for Monroe's services are the Milwaukee Bucks, whose busy first day included locking up restricted free agent Khris Middleton as well as meeting with Monroe in Washington, DC and Blazers free agent center Robin Lopez in L.A.. To the Twitter!
Yahoo Sources: Two small market teams have made significant inroads in the pursuit of free agent Greg Monroe: Milwaukee and Portland.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2015
Hearing Bucks pitch to free agent Greg Monroe impressed the 25-year-old center. Bucks selling coach Kidd, new owners, young talent.— cfgardner (@cf_gardner) July 2, 2015
Wouldn't be surprised if Greg Monroe ended up in Milwaukee. Good young core. Athletes around to cover up on defense. Inside scoring needed— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) July 2, 2015
Now hearing Greg Monroe could decide who he will sign with later this afternoon.— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) July 2, 2015
The Bucks, Blazers, Knicks and Lakers are presumably all offering max deals starting at around $16 million per season, though the length and option structures could certainly vary. All could offer up to four years and a total dollar amount approaching $70 million, though it's quite possible Monroe would prefer a slightly shorter deal with an option year, allowing him to re-enter free agency sooner rather than later. Given he would seem to be a fairly clear-cut max guy, Monroe wouldn't seem to have much incentive to use teams like the Bucks simply for leverage, though it's always possible that agent David Falk is looking to extract more minor concessions or simply biding his time until the DeAndre Jordan sweepstakes plays out. Either way, the Bucks appear to be legitimate contenders for Monroe's services, though I'd also stop short of calling them anyone's favorite. Via Charles Gardner:
The Bucks presentation included an approach emphasizing coach Jason Kidd, new ownership with big plans for the franchise and a young core of talent. Milwaukee could put length and athleticism next to Monroe in the form of 20-year-olds Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Portland's appeal would likely be contingent on LaMarcus Aldridge remaining in Oregon, a scenario that seems increasingly unlikely. Aldridge is supposed to meet the Knicks on Thursday, so dominoes could begin to fall as soon as shortly thereafter. The good news for the Bucks is that they probably have the most stable and promising young core of any Monroe suitors. So while they're a small market and also likely a couple years (and some good luck) away from contending in the East, it's not as though the Lakers, Knicks and Blazers can offer Monroe a more compelling path to contention. Monroe spoke publicly this week about wanting to be the "missing piece" to a long-term winner, but none of the teams he's currently considering have a slam dunk path to getting there.
The Knicks, Lakers and Bucks are also all in the mix for Lopez, who also figures to be a nice fallback option for the DeAndre Jordan-chasing Mavericks and Clippers and whichever teams don't end up with Monroe. Bottom line: a bunch of teams want a center, but there are only so many to go around. Bucks target Tyson Chandler turned heads earlier in the day when he landed a four-year, $52 million deal from the Suns, while the Pelicans paid up to keep Omer Asik in New Orleans for $60 million over five years. The 27-year-old Lopez would presumably fetch at least that much given the teams left out of the Monroe sweepstakes will likely become increasingly desperate to land someone, which would likely diminish his value somewhat.
As always: stay tuned.