There are some NBA officials who are convinced Greg Monroe has played his last game for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Monroe has an opt-out clause in his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent, starting July 1. He would then be able to cut a deal with the team of his choice without the Bucks receiving any compensation.
But David Falk, Monroe’s longtime and highly-respected agent, said in a phone interview that he and his client are keeping their options open and isn’t dismissing the possibility of Monroe remaining in Milwaukee.
“At some point, we’re going to sit down with Bucks management; I really like those guys: Marc (Lasry), Wes (Edens) and Jamie (Dinan),’’ Falk said of the Bucks’ tri-majority owners. “I think they’re doing some great things for Milwaukee. They’ve been great to deal with.’’
Monroe, whom the Bucks signed to a three-year, $51 million contract as a free agent in July of 2015, made $17.14M this season and would collect $17.88M if he chose to stay with the Bucks next season.
The speculation is Monroe, if he opted out, could command a multi-year deal.
“I could see him getting three years for around $45 million,’’ an NBA official said.
Falk politely declined to reveal what kind of deal he is seeking for Monroe.
“We’ll never discuss these things publicly,’’ Falk said. “It would be inappropriate.’’
Falk made it clear Monroe enjoyed playing this season for the Bucks, who advanced to the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs before being eliminated by Toronto in six games.
It marked the first time in seven seasons – five with Detroit and two with Milwaukee — that Monroe appeared in postseason play. The 6-foot-11 Monroe played well and with unabashed enthusiasm. He was a force around the basket, using his big frame effectively, and delivered several timely baskets throughout the series.
“That was one of the reasons he chose Milwaukee,’’ Falk said of Monroe, who averaged 13.2 points and 7.3 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game in the playoffs. “He wanted to be in the playoffs.’’
Monroe’s strong postseason play didn’t go unnoticed by NBA personnel.
“No question, he helped himself with the way he played in the playoffs,’’ a front office official said. “I thought he did a really good job on (Toronto’s Jonas) Valanciunas.’’
Monroe was productive during the regular season as well. Even though he never started a game and averaged 22.5 minutes, he was nevertheless a major contributor in the Bucks reaching the playoffs.
Monroe played in all but one of the 82 regular-season games and was the team’s fourth-leading scorer (11.7 points) and the team’s second-leading rebounder (6.6 rebounds). He shot 53 percent from the field.
In light of his fine season, Monroe, who turns 27 on June 4, figures to pique the interest of several teams, especially since there’ll be a dearth of quality centers available. Some other centers who’ll be unrestricted free agents or have player opt-out clauses this summer include Nene, Dewayne Dedmon, Aron Baynes, Javale McGee and Andrew Bogut.
HoopsHype.com ranks Monroe the 1tth-best free agent-(restricted or unrestricted) that could be available this summer.
“I think he’ll be the No. 1 big on the market if he decides to (opt out),’’ Falk said.
Two NBA officials, when asked to speculate on potential suitors for Monroe in free agency, mentioned New York and the Los Angeles Lakers – two teams that courted Monroe before he opted for Milwaukee two summers ago. Some other NBA officials surmised Charlotte, Houston, Sacramento and Indiana could possibly have interest in Monroe.
“There really aren’t many teams that need centers now; there really isn’t,’’ an NBA personnel director said. “So, there isn’t going to be a huge demand for him. But there are some teams that could use him and I think it’ll all come down to how much (money) he wants.’’
Added an Eastern Conference personnel director: “There’ll be a market for him, for sure. The league has been trending toward big men moving outside, but you still need low-post scorers. He’s a very good low-post scorer. He’s tough to stop (from scoring) down low; he’s got those crafty moves.
“And I think he’s a good passer and he plays hard; he’s physical. So, yeah, like I said, I think there’s going to be a market for him.’’
Photo by Bill Tennessen