Milwaukee Capitalizes in Free Agency with Addition of Monroe

For the first time since the inception of free agency, Milwaukee was able to lure a talented player away from the traditionally major markets in the league.

With the Lakers and Knicks, both armed with the ability to offer maximum contracts and in need of an upgrade in the front court, lost out on the services of Greg Monroe, as he accepted a three-year $50 million deal with the Bucks. 

Included in the contract is a player option after the second season, a clause that enables the 6-foot-11 forward to once again become an unrestricted free agent when the salary cap is expected to jump to $108 million, a $40 million increase over the 2015-16 season.

Monroe joins a rising core in Milwaukee that managed to finish last season 41-41 as forward Giannis Antetokounmpo continued to prove himself as one of the most promising players in the league.

Jabari Parker, the second overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, returns after tearing his ACL 25 games into his career and the team managed to resign Khris Middleton, convincing him to sign a five-year $70 million deal to stay in Milwaukee.

The Bucks suddenly stand as a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference, as the addition of Monroe fills the void left behind by the last big man the team signed to a max contract, Larry Sanders.

Greg Monroe averaged 14.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game during his five-year career in Detroit.
Greg Monroe averaged 14.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game during his five-year career in Detroit.

The two sides agreed to a four-year $44 million extension, but then reached a buyout after walking away from the game.

Sanders struggled on and off the court after signing the contract, as a brawl in a Milwaukee area night club resulted in a thumb injury and a broken jaw limited him to just 50 games over the past two years.

After emerging as one of the most potent shot blockers in the league, as Sanders turned back shots per game during the 2012-13 season, he manged just 1.4 blocks per game a year ago.

The 25-year-old Monroe isn’t a rim protector, averaging 0.6 blocks per game in five seasons with the Pistons.

The lack of shot blocking resulted in new coach and team president Stan Van Gundy wanting to move on from Monroe immediately.

Instead of signing a long term deal last summer to remain in Detroit, Monroe inked a $5.5 million qualifying offer, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Playing alongside Andre Drummond, Monroe grabbed a career-high 10.2 rebounds per game while posting 15.9 points, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.5 blocks per game.

For all of the deficiencies Monroe presents on the defensive end of the floor, his phenomenal post game made him one of the most desired free agents this summer.

The Knicks  believed Monroe was a perfect fit in the triangle offense and before the regular season ended, reports surfaced about the two sides already agreeing to terms.

Clearly, no deal was reached, as Monroe met with the Bucks, Knicks, Lakers and Trail Blazers, with reports surfacing about all four teams offering the maximum allowable under the salary cap.

Portland and Milwaukee both made the playoffs, but a return for the Trail Blazers seems to be a long shot, as LaMarcus Aldridge continues to explore his options in free agency.

Greg Monroe was selected with the seventh overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft.
Greg Monroe was selected with the seventh overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft.

The Bucks can employ a variety of lineups, with Monroe at center Antetokounmpo starting at power forward and Parker at small forward to optimize the offense.

Or the team could shift Monroe to power forward and start Zaza Pachulia at center, or even John Henson, one of the most effective shot blockers in the league.

Even though Henson played just 18.3 minutes a game, he managed to swat away two shots per game.

If he was able to maintain his average over 36 minutes a game, he would have led the NBA in blocks per game at 4.0.

Only the limited offensive game of Henson, combined with his small frame, prevents him from spending extended periods of time on the floor.

Milwaukee could play Henson with Monroe to balance each other out, but the rotation will be figured out once training camp commences in early October.

For the first time since free agency began in the NBA in 1988, the Bucks are beating out the two biggest markets in the league for free agents.

Monroe has solidified the Bucks as a serious threat in the Eastern Conference.

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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