Since the 2017-2018 NBA season commenced, little action has actually followed the nonstop trade chatter. With teams looking at making the most out of the roster available to them before shuffling names at the season’s midpoint, there are scarce positives in changing the locker room little under a month into the campaign.
That was until Eric Bledsoe’s shenanigans on and off the court went too far for the rebuilding Phoenix Suns to deal with. As a result, he has been let go to Milwaukee Bucks for Greg Monroe and two future first round draft picks.
For the Suns, they get a valuable starter/ Sixth man in Monroe and more future flexibility associated with the picks. For Milwaukee, they add another strong speedy player to their ranks who will ease the playmaking responsibilities on Giannis Antetokounmpo.
However, Bledsoe’s presence compounds the Bucks problems spreading the floor since the former Los Angeles Clippers Guard is a good three point shooter at best just like a host of players in Milwaukee with the exception of Khris Middleton and to a large extent Malcolm Brogdon. While that problem can be papered over by the regular season’s fast paced fixture commitment, Milwaukee’s shortcomings are bound to be exposed in the postseason.
Up until this trade, Monroe was looking at playing out his final year of a three year, $50 million contract and cash out from playing very well in limited minutes-11.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in 22.5 minutes last season. Up until this week, Monroe was a member of the biggest threat to Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics stranglehold on the Eastern Conference crown.
Now he is in Phoenix and expected to baby sit Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and Marquese Chriss as they go through the rigors of the league as young men with big potential. Most importantly, Moose as Monroe is popularly called, would have been one of the few back to the basket, paint working, non shooting Center’s wanted in the NBA. With the trade signed, sealed and delivered, Monroe is in a dreaded place for his kind. The modern game is heavily based on three point shooting and mid range jump shots. Third year player and 2015 NBA Draft Third overall pick, Jahlil Okafor’s struggles to land a team is a perfect illustration of the game today.
Now out of his comfort zone, Monroe should be back on the road again as Phoenix plan to trade him for more draft picks or buy him out of his contract to open more salary cap space. Either move makes sense as Greg’s expiring contract makes him less valuable to the team coupled with a crowded frontcourt the team has with the likes of Alex Len, Tyson Chandler, Dragan Bender and Chriss all on the roster. After tasting playoffs for the first time in his career last season with Milwaukee, Monroe will be revving to get back in that zone again and not for a team light years away from making a postseason run.
Getting moved out of a comfortable spot has been the underlying factor behind their fall from the top. Roy Hibbert is without a team this season and has been a redundant spot taker on the LA Lakers and Charlotte Hornets since he was moved out of Indiana Pacers where he featured in two Conference Finals. Dwight Howard was supremely comfortable at Orlando Magic but pushed through for a deal that sent him to bad spells with the Lakers, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks before suiting up for the Hornets coached by Steve Clifford a former Orlando Assistant Coach this season. None shooting big defenders need systems set for them to thrive; it is the main reason behind Ian Mahinmi’s presence on the Washington Wizards bench despite featuring less and less than before and taking $16 million this season and the next two seasons.
The likes of Salah Mejri and Nerlens Noel have a job in the league specifically with Dallas Mavericks as their height and rebounding abilities are needed to take over from veteran Forward Dirk Nowiztki when the sweet shooting German sits. Detroit Pistons Center Andre Drummond is perhaps the biggest beneficiary as the two time NBA Champions system has been skewed to make him comfortable despite alarming misses at the free throw line. In a 14 point, 21 rebound winning effort, Drummond missed all seven attempts from the charity stripe yet played over 25 minutes; a move from Detroit won’t afford such luxury.
The limited numbers of offers to Monroe indicate the Center is on the fringe of phasing out of the system in the modern trend and possibly could be like Hibbert and many guys out of the league because they couldn’t adapt to the new ways of doing things. Primed to headline a second tier group of free agents next season, Monroe’s career path could have serious damage on his stay in the Association.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMint on Twitter