The NBA is always full of speculation, especially around the time of the trade deadline (Feb. 20) and the Washington Wizards are reportedly in the middle of some speculation.
It is being reported by Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders that, according to multiple league sources, the Washington Wizards will pursue Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe, either through trade or free agency.
The Pistons are most likely looking to deal Monroe because he does not fit into their long-term plans. Detroit loaded up their front line this offseason when they added Josh Smith. They thought the front line trio of Smith, Monroe and Andre Drummond would be effective defensively and create matchup nightmares for opposing teams. However, it has not worked. With the trio on the floor, the Pistons are allowing 109.8 points per 100 possessions while only scoring 99.8 points per 100 possessions. Their -10.0 net rating of offensive and defensive rating is the team’s worst of any three-man lineup that has seen more than 340 minutes of play. Clearly, management did not expect the experiment to be such a failure and now that they are committed to Smith, it would make sense for the Pistons to look to deal Monroe or let him walk after the season is over. And apparently the Wizards are a team who has showed interest in the fourth-year big man from Georgetown.
But first the Wizards need to find a way to acquire Monroe. I think it is more likely for the Wizards to make a run at Monroe in the offseason when he is a free agent rather than acquiring him via a trade this season. The reason? The Wizards just do not have the assets in order to get a player that many consider to be a franchise-type center. The only appealing realistic asset the Wizards currently have is Trevor Ariza. Ariza is in the last year of his contract and is having one of his best years in his nine-season career, averaging 13.7 points per game as well as 6.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Unfortunately, the Wizards have very few other options to package with Ariza. Rookie Otto Porter could be a potential candidate, but I just do not see it. For one, it would mean the Wizards would already be giving up on their third overall pick, which seems unlikely since they will not even send him to the D-League to help his development. On the flip side of things, I doubt Detroit has seen enough production from Porter, who is averaging only 1.8 points per game in 10.1 minutes per game, to want to take him on board. Even if the Pistons were interested in Porter and Ariza they would have to add another player into the deal, which complicates any possible trade going down between the two teams even more. I do not see a trade happening, unless the Pistons are super high on Porter.
Acquiring Monroe through free agency seems like the most realistic option, if and fact, the Wizards are serious about adding Monroe. They have multiple expiring contracts coming up next season, including Marcin Gortat‘s and Ariza’s, who make over 15 million combined this season. I have not had time to crunch the numbers, but if the Wizards really want Monroe, they will be able to figure a way to fit a Monroe contract into their salary cap. Monroe will most likely been seeking max-contract money. It will all depend on if the Wizards are fully convinced that Monroe can be the third piece with John Wall and Bradley Beal who will allow them to take the next step as an organization.
So, is Monroe that guy who takes you from a middle of the pack team to a top-tier team? I think he can be, especially if Wall and Beal continue to develop at their current pace. Monroe has seen a dip in his numbers this season. He is currently averaging 14.4 points per game along with 8.8 rebounds compared to last season when he averaged 16 points per game while grabbing 9.6 rebounds and dishing out 3.8 assists. I think a big reason his numbers have gone down is because of the addition of Smith and point guard Brandon Jennings. Neither of the two players are known for their passing or basketball IQ and that has made Monroe less of a focal point of the offense. He is capable of being a consistent double-double player and I think the situation in Detroit is currently hindering his development.
One intriguing skill that Monroe could bring to D.C. would be his passing ability out of the post. He is an excellent passer from the post and the high post and so is current power forward Nene. Those two would be able to setup each other as well as open shooters and make the Wizards offense more efficient. The two could form a fun little duo down there in the paint.
Of course, this is all speculation. However, I do believe the report because Detroit knows Monroe is the odd man out of their big man trio. Also, the Wizards have been a team which has been adamant about becoming a consistent winner and adding Monroe will certainly help them.
I have no idea if anything will happen leading up to the trade deadline. Speculated trades rarely actually go through, but especially hard when one team really has no appealing assets. So, we will see. Stay tuned.