The Greg Monroe trade rumors have been consistent throughout the offseason, Milwaukee is interested in moving on from their big free agency signing after one season with the team. With the selection of high upside prospect, Thon Maker, the Bucks have committed to the future at the center position, so the rumors make quite a bit of sense; however, the trade market for the once prized big man is quickly drying up as teams around the league acquire big men to fill their void, making it uncertain whether Moose will open up next season as a Milwaukee Buck. The front office should absolutely look into trading Greg, but failing to complete a trade wouldn’t be the worst thing for the organization.
Next season, Greg is under contract for 17.1 million dollars, with the jump in available cap, productive centers are making similar money. Timofy Mozgof signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers for 4 years 64 million, making just under 15 million dollars in his first season. Although he’s not a center, Ryan Anderson signed with the Houston Rockets on a 4 year $80 million deal, and Dwight Howard signed with the Atlanta Hawks for 3 years $70.5 million. Point being, Greg isn’t exactly overpaid.
If Monroe can’t be traded in the next few months, we will in all likelihood retain his services for the whole season, as he holds a player option to enter free agency at year’s end. It will be extremely hard to make a deal work for an expiring big man making $17.6 million, especially as teams question just how worthy Moose is in the first place. Greg is viewed very differently from when he was on the open market choosing between Milwaukee, New York, and Los Angeles. Once viewed as a big man that could score, rebound, and pass, Moose is now labelled as a poor rim protector, old school center who slows the offense down, needing the ball to impact the game. I’m not sure anyone will be willing to trade for him unless he agrees to accept his players’ option to remain with his new team for the next season.
Considering his game seems to be less useful in the stretch-NBA, and his contract isn’t ideal for teams potentially pining for his services, there aren’t a ton of teams that want Monroe unloaded on them. The best bet in striking a deal is to negotiate with the New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, or the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pelicans are probably the best fit for Moose in the NBA. To play his game, Greg needs to play alongside a post player that can stretch the floor and carry the load protecting the rim. Anthony Davis provides all of that, plus the Pelicans are in need of adding talent to surround their prized First Team All-NBA forward. If a deal can’t be had with New Orleans, the likelihood of getting one done goes way down, for the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers don’t fit his style of play. I mean, the Rockets are in need of a center after Dwight Howards signed away to the Atlanta Hawks, but new coach Mike Dantoni would be hard pressed to get the most out of Moose in his high speed system. As for the Lakers, who just signed free agent Timofy Mozgof, and were interested in Greg during his free agency, they seem like another long shot to land our mixed bag center. The Lakers signed Luke Walton to be their next head coach, so they are another program that looks to be headed to running down the floor at top speed trying to find an open three point shooter in transition, just not what Greg Monroe does well. Even if we do pull off a trade with any of these options, I don’t think we’ll receive much.
The Milwaukee Bucks front office will need to decide if Greg is worth more to us playing in a Milwaukee Bucks jersey. Last season, Jason Kidd and the coaching staff used Greg as our number one scoring option, giving him the ball to start many possessions. I felt that the team was using him too much to initiate offense, putting him in situations where he had to make a play. I don’t think that’s his game. I think he can definitely make plays on the offensive end of the floor, but the team would be better served if Moose takes a step back to Giannis, Jabari, and Khris this season. By this, I mean if Moose is posting up and doesn’t get the ball within a second or two, he should cut to the short corner opening up space for our core to do what it does best, slash. If Greg plays to the team’s strengths this season, it leaves us with a talented fourth option on the offensive end that we probably won’t receive in return for any trade involving him. By keeping Monroe with the current core, we are to hope that the starting lineup gels with Giannis continuing point guard duties as Monroe’s touches decrease, allowing him to positively affect the game in spurts. Improved shooting from the core would make this a winning formula as Moose would now have the space to operate and a more reasonable usage rate within the offense.
On the defense end, all we can ask from Moose is to get his body into the offensive player, do your best protecting the rim, and most importantly, win the battle for position for the rebound. With a year under his belt, Greg may have a greater understanding of the team’s defensive rotation, giving the team the last line of defense it desperately needs. The Bucks also struggled to rebound last season as Jabari is a below average rebounder playing the four positon. Greg did rebound well last season, but the team really struggled overall on the glass. We need our center to dominate the glass starting next to Jabari. We can ask Giannis to fill the holes on that end some, but asking him to be our defensive savior really drains his energy level. With Monroe, the team needs to ask itself if his offense is worth his shortcomings on the defensive end. I think they’ve already decided long-term that it’s not, but in the present our best option may just be to play his contract out and let him walk. He can help keep the team’s hopes of fighting for the playoffs intact until John Henson and Thon Maker are prepared to step into advanced roles.
The risk with hoping Moose gels with the core in year two is if he has an underwhelming season it becomes possible that Moose opts in to his player’s option for the 2017-2018 season. If this were to be the case, besides a probable lottery pick, the Bucks would have very little to show for the Monroe signing. Missing the playoffs back to back years after you add the “missing piece” is a complete failure for the front office, especially since Moose would essentially be untradeable going into his last season in Milwaukee.
Trading Greg Monroe is going to be quite the challenge for the front office over the next few months, so regardless whether you want him traded or not, start accepting that it’s a probability that he’s in cream and green for the long haul this coming season.