By Ashley Dunkak
AUBURN HILLS (CBS DETROIT) – New Pistons team president and head coach Stan Van Gundy said he has spent well over half his time in Detroit on the situation of 24-year-old restricted free agent forward Greg Monroe.
The Pistons could deal Monroe via a sign-and-trade; they could decline to match the highest offer he receives and let him walk; they could match the highest offer he gets and keep him; or they could sign him to a multiple-year deal.
Van Gundy said feels confident that the Pistons have prepared themselves for every option.
“We’ve been through basically every million-dollar increment of an offer sheet he could get, and what will we do if he takes the option of signing an offer sheet and this is what he comes back with, what will we do,” Van Gundy said. “To me there’s not going to be any drama in it. We’ve already made that decision. We’ve already talked with ownership, so we know down the road, if July 11, let’s say, he presents us with an offer sheet at whatever dollar, we’ve made the decision already, so we know where we’re going, so there’s no anxiety for us in that.
“Whatever decisions we make in that regard, we know what the implications are for those decisions,” Van Gundy added. “We know the advantages and the disadvantages … We’ve got a strategy moving forward.”
Van Gundy said he has spoken daily with Pistons owner Tom Gores and Platinum Equity partners Bob Wentworth and Phil Norment. The coach said he spent a long time on the phone Monday night with Gores, and a good part of their conversation revolved around Monroe. Van Gundy made sure to emphasize that Gores is not encouraging him to go one way or another as far as Monroe is concerned.
“He’s not come close to saying, ‘Here’s what I want you to do,’ or ‘Here’s what I think you should do,'” Van Gundy said. “What Tom’s really good at, as I’ve found … and so are Phil and Bob – is they really ask good questions to make sure that you’ve gone through the process the right way in your mind, and then I think they’re comfortable that when you’ve gone through the process, that we’re basketball people and we’ll make a good decision.
“They’re not trying to influence the decision, but they do a great job of, ‘Have you thought of this? What do you think of this?'” Van Gundy added, “and I’ve really liked that part because I think it crystallizes your thinking and makes you sharper.”
To Van Gundy, the situation as far as the Pistons have control of it has been resolved.
“Some of it’s in our control, and those things we’re clear on, and the stuff that’s out of control, I’m not going to waste a lot of time worrying about because it’s not in my control,” Van Gundy said. “If we can’t find a trade that we like before July 1, then Greg will get a qualifying offer, and then from there what he does with it is up to Greg and his agent.
“The decision’s been made,” the coach continued later. “I don’t think we’ll have more discussion on it or more meetings on it or everything else. The Greg Monroe situation we have spent countless hours on, we’ve talked it through with ownership, we know what we’re doing.”
Of course, there was one caveat. The Pistons, while not actively pursuing trade partners for Monroe, will entertain those who would like to discuss the idea.
“We’re not shopping Greg Monroe,” Van Gundy said, “but as people approach us about trades or Greg’s agent approaches us about possible sign-and-trades, now those all have to be considered because they’re new things, but the overall strategy doesn’t have to be considered. The trade strategy is we either get something that we value, something that we think makes our team better than it would be not having Greg, both short-term and long-term, or we don’t do the deal.”
Van Gundy said the team has considered and discussed the possibility of a multiple-year deal for Monroe. He did address the idea that the four-year, $54 million contract of fellow Pistons forward Josh Smith could impact the likelihood of a long-term contract for Monroe.
“If we got three years down the road, Josh would be in the last year of his contract at $13.5,” Van Gundy began. “If Greg went out and got a max offer this year or something close to a max offer and we matched it, then that’s the year that Andre [Drummond] becomes a max player. You could be in a situation where you have three guys who are over $13 million a year on your roster, and there’d be a good chance just because of the duplication and the makeup that one of them’s coming off the bench.
“So that’s an interesting scenario,” Van Gundy admitted, “and we have looked down the road at that. It’s hard to say that’s the ideal situation because certainly if you’ve got $40-some million in your two front line spots, it really affects what you’re able to do on your perimeter, and you would like a balance on your roster, but we have also come to the conclusion of, again, if that’s what it comes to, that we can deal with that for one year, so I think we’re comfortable with however things go that we’ll be okay.”