Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe averaged over 15 points and 8 rebounds per game last season, while shooting with an effective field goal percentage over 50%.
Yet, the Bucks can’t seem to find a trading partner quite yet. Here’s a quick look into why teams are trying to buy low on Moose.
Monroe is simply a poor defender, both individually, but also as a help defender at the rim. He has limited speed, which makes it extremely difficult for him to rotate or switch.
This is best exemplified by his inability to attack the pick and roll. With most modern NBA centers becoming increasingly athletic, leverage of length and speed, especially lateral quickness are becoming staples at the position.
While Monroe has the length, he simply lacks the speed to cover perimeter players or rotate defensively and act as a rim protector. The latter becomes even more dire for the Bucks, as his frontcourt mate Jabari Parker is not a good defender either, and often needs a true rim protector playing next to him.
One way to mitigate this lack of speed would be for Monroe to become a smarter defender. Unfortunately, it seems that Jason Kidd’s highly aggressive defense only seemed to confuse Moose.
While Monroe’s effort cannot be questioned, he simply isn’t a good enough fit for most teams defensively. A team would need a hyperathletic, rim-protecting big man next to Moose, but this player most also have the range and offensive versatility to play out of the high post and midrange areas.
There’s really only two players in the league that fit the bill: Karl Anthony-Towns and Anthony Davis.
So why haven’t either the Timberwolves or Pelicans made a trade offer?
The other holdup for Monroe is his contract.
Initially, many lauded the contract as a very smart one for both the Bucks and Monroe. It was a 3-year max (before the massive cap jump) with a player opt-out option after year 2.
That opt out has essentially made Monroe into an expiring contract. Once upon a time expiring contracts were an asset, but now with the massive cap spike, everyone has cap space!
No one needs to clear money off the books for next summer’s free agency, which means Monroe’s only value is his on-court production. The issue here is that no team will want to give up any rea assets in a trade, given that they could lose Monroe after just a season of play.
This puts the Bucks in a zero trade leverage situation. While Monroe is an offensive star, his defensive shortcomings limit suitors and his contract makes it impossible for the Bucks to recoup any tangible assets.
At this point, it’s looking increasingly likely that Monroe simply plays out this coming season with the Bucks. But, we’ll take a look at some potential trade partners.
Potential trade partners
Boston Celtics: Even with the addition of Al Horford, the Celtics could definitely look to add Monroe. They have plenty of assets and would utilize Monroe right with Brad Stevens in charge.
New Orleans Pelicans: As aforementioned, the Pelicans feel like an ideal suitor with Davis already in the front court. Throw in the fact that Monroe is from New Orleans, and it just makes even more sense. I’m sure the Pelicans would love to trade Omer Asik’s contract in exchange for Monroe.
Washington Wizards: The Wizards have depth, but could use more help in the front court. Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi may not be enough to get the job done.
New York Knicks: Monroe almost signed with the Knicks last offseason, but chose the Bucks over New York and the Lakers. The Knicks look like, or at least think, they’re going to be playoff contenders, and they may look to move for Monroe to help a weak front court outside of Carmelo.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.