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2015 NBA Free Agency: Pelicans could target Greg Monroe after firing Monty Williams

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Will the New Orleans native come home to create the most fearsome big man pairing in the league? Don't rule it out.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Monroe coming to New Orleans just increased as a possibility. As long as Monty Williams was the head coach I could not fathom the New Orleans Pelicans organization letting Omer Asik walk and going after a less defensively accomplished center. Monty has now been fired and the possibility that "Moose" coming home to the Crescent City, however limited, is a rising stock.

I wrote about Monroe midway through this season. In my opinion, the Helen Cox High School product is a center who is being asked to play power forward in Detroit. As I discussed last summer, Monroe has NBA center size listed at 6'11" with a 7'2"+ wingspan at the NBA combine according to Draft Express. Looking at his Basketball Reference page, Monroe exclusively played center for his first three seasons and continued to log the majority of his minutes at center despite Andre Drummond on the roster.

Monroe is also young, he turns 25 years old this June. He averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds this season, his first averaging a double-double. Monroe has not been an effective rim protector in his career, and that will raise red flags. Ranking in the Jared Sullinger and Spencer Hawes section in rim protection is extremely concerning for any team looking to make Monroe their franchise center.

How much can the Pelicans offer?

This is the most important question concerning the viability of Monroe coming to New Orleans. The maximum offer Monroe can receive in free agency outside of Detroit is four years, and just short of $67.5 Million. That begins at $15.8 Million in the first season with maximum 4.5% raises in each following year. While New Orleans is unlikely to reach that number, they can come close.

In a prospective sign-and-trade the Pelicans could send out Ryan Anderson ($8.5 Million owed) and the unguaranteed contract of Toney Douglas ($1,185,784). With that amount going out New Orleans can receive $14,628,676 ([8,500,000 + 1,185,784 * 1.5] + 100,000) according to the NBA CBA. Toss in 4.5% raises and the total value of the contract is four years and slightly under $62.5 Million. Will that $5 Million difference keep the Pelicans out of Moose Season? It is difficult to say. Their offer would be competitive, but it is unlikely it would be the max.

Will the Pistons consider it?

Last summer there was little reason for the Pistons to entertain a sign-and-trade with the Pelicans, though it was discussed according to Nakia Hogan. Ultimately, Monroe signed a one year qualifying offer so he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He could leave and the Pistons would have nothing to show for it; thus, expect Detroit to examine any and all sign-and-trade scenarios.

While the Pelicans, with about $7 million in salary cap room, don't appear to have enough cap space to sign Monroe, a source said the team has made some initial inquiries to the Pistons about the possibility of working out a sign-and-trade deal.

The Pistons started Drummond and Monroe beside each other much of the year. However, it became a habit of head coach (and President of Basketball Operations) Stan Van Gundy to sub out Monroe early for Anthony Tolliver, a stretch four, early in the first and third quarters. Ryan Anderson, now over a year removed from his neck injury, could be an upgrade if he returns to form. There is also Anderson's extremely successful history with SVG to consider.

Draymond Green has "significant interest" in signing with the Pistons this summer, making their needs at power forward evaporate. However, Green is a restricted free agent and the Golden State Warriors have said repeatedly that Green is part of their core. They are willing to pay the luxury tax to keep that starting lineup together and even Green's own mother got into the act a few days ago.

A recent interview with his mother, Mary Babers-Green, however, suggests the match between Draymond and the Pistons isn't meant to be for now. "I want him to stay in the place that will be the most productive for his career, and I want what makes him happy," she told Joe Rexrode from the Lansing State Journal. "The Bay loves Dray, and Dray loves the Bay. I've got NBA TV."

Will the Pistons do it? Not right away but it does not appear likely that Draymond Green is the answer there. The next real "stretch four" in free agency is Andrea Bargnani or Jonas Jerebko, whom the Pistons traded away during the season. If the Pelicans are certain Monroe is their guy, patience will be necessary to make it happen.

Will that hamstring the future?

More so than re-signing Omer Asik, but not egregiously so. The cap jump in 2016 is so massive that there are few conceivable moves the Pelicans could make that will eliminate it altogether. Instead of having roughly $21M in space with Asik, New Orleans would have about $17.5M if they go after Monroe instead.

Monroe Cap

Is that a devastating blow to future flexibility? I don't believe so. The more pertinent question to me is whether Monroe can be so much more effective on offense to mask his defense shortcomings. Along with that is a question of possessions. Monroe used 23.9% of possessions while he was on the court and Asik used just 14.0%. Those extra possessions are going to come from somewhere in the starting lineup. I, along with Pelican fans everywhere, expect Anthony Davis to use an even greater volume than the nearly 28% he did last season.

Others Could Be Gone

Omer Asik is not the only player whose long term future in New Orleans is now in greater doubt with the departure of Monty Williams. Anyone outside of Anthony Davis could be moved, and has a greater chance to, with the turnover occurring at head coach. Whoever the new coach is will effect how the team is built going forward. Monty's relatively strict interpretations of basketball positions are probably on the way out and the next Pelicans team could look very different.