The original report from Grantland’s Zach Lowe stated that Monroe is unwilling to commit to the Pistons long-term if Smith remains with the team.
“Multiple sources say Greg Monroe’s camp has made it known Monroe will sign the one-year qualifying offer if Smith remains on the roster,” says Lowe. “Monroe’s camp denies that, and that kind of empty threat is not atypical from top restricted free agents. It’s really their only form of leverage.”
Today, Van Gundy told Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that “Greg’s never said anything to us about not wanting to play with Josh.”
Just got off the phone with SVG: “Greg’s never said anything to us about not wanting to play with Josh.”
— Vincent Ellis (@Vincent_Ellis56) July 3, 2014
Monroe himself also took to Twitter to deny the allegations.
These false reports are even more funnier when you’re in the situation and u kno the truth.. I jus laugh
— Greg Monroe (@M10OSE) July 2, 2014
Put “sources say” in front of somethin and ppl believe. The “source” might be a hot pocket pack yall dont even kno…lol — Greg Monroe (@M10OSE) July 3, 2014
Whether there’s any truth to the initial report, it’s easy to understand why Monroe feels the need to defend himself. As a restricted free agent, he only has limited control of the situation — a complicated situation at that.
The fact of the matter is that a trio of Smith-Monroe-Drummond proved to be a miserable failure and now Monroe has a decision to make.
Monroe’s choices are to sign a one-year qualifying offer to become an unrestricted free agent, sign an offer sheet with another team, or commit to Detroit for two to three years.
Vince Ellis of Detroit Free Press detailed these options:
If he signs an offer sheet, despite many reports to the contrary, the Pistons’ only option at that point is to either match or let Monroe walk. A sign-and-trade is no longer possible.
A team could threaten to sign Monroe and then encourage the Pistons to the bargaining table to engineer a sign-and-trade.
And then there’s the nuclear option — Monroe signs the $5.4-million qualifying offer, plays out next season and becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
If Monroe is truly not happy about sharing a front court with Smith and Andre Drummond, his only recourse would be to sign a one-year deal and enter the market as an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Choosing this route would run the risk of potential injury or a decline in performance next season which would decrease his chances of a bigger pay-day down the line.
Whether these reports are true or false, or whether the player denies it, once it’s out there, it’s part of the discussion. There’s very little anyone — including Monroe — can do to stop the perception he wants Smith gone once it went public.