With the signing of Langston Galloway, the New Orleans Pelicans are hovering right around the $90 million mark in total team salary. This figure doesn't even include Buddy Hield or Cheick Diallo and the non-guaranteed contracts of Luke Babbitt and Toney Douglas. Hence, any remaining sizable move or moves will have to occur via trade, so it's time to start thinking about Greg Monroe, the oft-maligned center on the Milwaukee Bucks, again.
As I'm sure you're aware, New Orleans has been tied to Monroe numerous times in the span of the last year, so expect the embers to still be glowing. As evidenced by the acquisition of Solomon Hill, Dell Demps can remain persistent for as long as necessary. Less than two days before the start of the free agent moratorium, ESPN's Zach Lowe hinted the Pelicans still had Monroe on their radar.
The Pelicans have explored a Monroe-Anthony Davis partnership before, but they are hopeful Omer Asik will rebound after a dreadful season; they are in no rush to waive him via the stretch provision, allowing them to spread his remaining guaranteed money, sources say. Still: they will watch the market for centers, including Monroe.
The Bird Writes has explored multiple Monroe trade scenarios within the last year including a proposal involving a swap for Omer Asik and a package around Ryan Anderson. Today, I think it's appropriate to consider a deal involving Tyreke Evans. More than likely, I envision a potential deal could also include Asik or Alexis Ajinca, maybe even Babbitt or Douglas for both roster and salary purposes. From the Bucks perspective, it wouldn't surprise me to see them toss in Michael Carter Williams.
Why the Bucks do it
It's no secret, Milwaukee has been searching for new homes for Monroe and MCW. However, they would probably be the first to acknowledge their point guard and center spots are not as strong as they might be in another season or two. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been proclaimed the future starter at the one, but he's only 21 years old, with more development time sorely needed at his future position. Thon Maker was selected with the 10th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, but he's not going to be ready to step into a major role right away.
Recent-acquisition Matthew Dellavedova and John Henson make for fine rotation players, but it's difficult to imagine either of them as starters on a playoff team. Thus, stop gaps are enviable for John Hammond while the Bucks also offload dead weight.
The last thing Milwaukee wants to do is commit to future salaries with Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker extensions on the horizon. Tyreke Evans, with one year remaining on his current contract, fits that recipe. Additionally he could appease Jason Kidd's wish for an oversized point guard, while perhaps serving as a protege of sorts for the Freak.
Although Asik would likely represent a hindrance, Ajinca would not and could represent a great backup plan for Maker and Henson. He is under team control for another three years, at a cost of approximately $5 million a season. Babbitt and Douglas represent potential sweetners for a team that finished last in the league in made three-pointers.
Why the Pelicans do it
New Orleans has not signed either of their rookies, decided upon Babbitt or Douglas nor answered the Tim Frazier question -- they're still looking to make a deal before going over the salary cap line, and would probably prefer to stay under that amount enough to sign Diallo to a more team-friendly contract. (Don't worry about Buddy, he can be signed under the rookie exception.)
Greg Monroe is not a perfect solution, but he fits the mold of the front office's desire to add more high character personnel. One year ago, Stan Van Gundy proclaimed, "I think Greg is an outstanding player and I think he's a high-character guy as well. And I think those are the guys that you generally want to build around."
Did you catch the words? High character.
After such a disappointing season, apparently on and off the court, the Pelicans are focused on a major face lift. All three of the team's additions during this free agency, Hill, E'Twaun Moore and Langston Galloway, are considered to ooze the same trait out of every pore of their bodies.
Greg Monroe has his warts, but after last season, they could be more manageable than Asik's. The organization promised big changes, so a move like adding Monroe at the expense of Evans feels like the final stamp Dell Demps and company have in mind.