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Greg Monroe-Pelicans trade links, Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon officially sign, Jabari Parker USA Select highlights

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Monroe to Pelicans was kinda sorta close? | Lowe Post
What's that? A Greg Monroe trade rumor?  As discussed on the latest Zach Lowe podcast with Marc Stein:

The Bucks are still looking to find a taker for Greg Monroe and it sounds like they’ve spoken to the Pelicans about him this offseason. "I think [the Bucks] got closer than maybe has been reported with New Orleans during either the draft or free agency," ESPN’s Zach Lowe said during today’s episode of The Lowe Post podcast (54:25 mark for the relevant portion). "Monroe’s a New Orleans native," ESPN’s Marc Stein added. "I think that’s where he wants to end up."

Neither Lowe nor Stein suggested that a deal between the Pelicans and Bucks is currently in the works, but Stein expects the big man to eventually be moved, and those two clubs also discussed Monroe prior to this year’s trade deadline.

You may recall that the Bucks and Pelicans danced around a possible Monroe deal last February as well, and Monroe does make a fair bit of sense for New Orleans. The Pelicans need to surround Anthony Davis with talent sooner rather than later, Davis' rim protection could help mask Monroe's shortcomings in that department and Monroe is a NOLA native who could help drive interest and ticket sales.

Still, one glance at the Pelicans' roster makes it somewhat understandable why no deal has happened so far. The Bucks would certainly jump at the chance to take Jrue Holiday off New Orleans' hands, but the Pelicans have been loathe to part with their talented playmaker -- regardless of his injury history or status as an expiring contract. And beyond that...well, there's not much to work with. Tyreke Evans could work well as a sixth man for most teams, but he makes less sense if MCW is around and he's likely going to miss the start of the season after his third knee surgery in nine months (yikes). Meanwhile, Omer Asik would only be palatable if the Bucks got a real asset along with him (like, you know, Holiday or a first round pick).

So is there a deal to be had? I'm not sure. Holiday and Asik for Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams could represent common ground for both sides, but the Bucks could also be stuck with just Asik if Holiday bolts a year from now in free agency (and they might not be able to afford to keep him anyway). As uninspiring as it might be, I'd also think long and hard about Monroe for Evans, Alexis Ajinca (a solid backup big man on a reasonable deal) and a lottery-protected first round pick.

Would either option be worth it for the Bucks, or would they be better off simply hanging onto him to start the season? Considering how long Monroe has been on the block, it's tough to say what's really fair value for him at this point. The big unknown is probably how much Monroe wants to be moved and whether he'd balk at the idea of coming off the bench; if he'd go along with it then you'd expect the Bucks to resist a pure giveaway, but with a logjam of highly paid guys in the middle it's obvious that the Bucks are planning for life after Monroe at this point.

Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon to sign with Bucks | The Vertical
I'll have more on this in a separate post, but Shams Charania reports that the Bucks are on the verge of officially signing their two 2016 draft picks, moves that would trim their remaining cap space to probably around $3.5 million in addition to their $2.9 million room exception. Note that if they intend to use any of their $3.5 million in cap room they'll need to do it prior to officially signing Miles Plumlee, whose $52 million deal will wipe out their remaining space once it's signed.

2016 Summer Forecast, East standing | ESPN
ESPN's summer forecast projects the Bucks to finish outside the Eastern Playoff picture at 39-43, putting them 11th overall.

The Bucks' size continues to intrigue and leads our panel to believe the team can improve despite Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic being the big offseason additions. But a starting lineup of five players all 6-foot-6 or taller, and the potential of more Giannis Antetokounmpo at the point, should get the Bucks closer to .500.

I'd like to think the Bucks could sneak into the low-40s, but honestly it's tough to take anything for granted given what happened last year and the glut of teams in the 35-45 win range in the East at this point. I could see the Bucks landing anywhere between fifth and 13th next season, and with so much of their season riding on player development and a defensive bounce-back, it's tough to project them with any degree of precision.