Note: This is a guest post from Ronald Agers.
The Toronto Raptors scoured the free-agent pile to obtain journeyman free agent center Greg Monroe for the league minimum of $2.2 million for one year, according to Yahoo! Sports and other league sources, as Raptors Republic broke down on Monday. The Raptors signing Monroe is a move that is needed to provide front court depth, scoring and rebounding to a team that is under heavy construction following the trade of DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio for all-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard a few weeks ago.
With the Monroe signing, he will be battling for minutes with Jonas Valanciunas, Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka.
Monroe spent a lot of his frequent flyer miles last season splitting time with the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics. He averaged 10.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 51 games and has career averages of 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds. The 28-year-old was the 2010 lottery pick of the Detroit Pistons and played five years before signing in Milwaukee on a free agent deal in 2015. He was a part of the Bucks trade for guard Eric Bledsoe who famously tweeted “I don’t want to be here” after Phoenix was blown out by 40 or more twice, three games into the season, and soon after the trade, Monroe received a buyout and joined Boston. H was effective at times during the season and showed flashes in the playoffs.
All together now…AND?! SO WHAT?!
With Raptors president Masai Ujiri being permanently banned from DeMar Derozan’s and Dwane Casey’s Christmas list and obtaining an invitation to the executive hot seat going into this season, Raptors fans should be very excited about this signing. Believe it or not, Monroe could potentially be the Raptors most important signing in a summer in which they made very few actual signings. Now before I’m in Drake’s next hit named “ Ronald Agers is a nut,” let me explain.
Like it or not, Raptors fans, Toronto is in a state of chaos right now. It started when “Hurricane LeBron” came through with “Tropical Storm Cleveland” and blew the Raptors title hopes off the NBA playoff landscape three years in a row. This was to be the team to challenge for the NBA Finals but was embarrassed by the Cavs, who should have lost to the Indiana Pacers and barely outlasted the Boston Celtics. With the Casey firing and DeRozan deal, the Raptors are essentially blowing up this cap-strapped team and trying to make changes to their identity on the fly without going into full-on tank mode.
Monroe brings something to the table that the Toronto Raptors left someplace in the regular season: Toughness and the willingness to compete. Monroe came out of Georgetown. You know the college that produced Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutumbo. You know, guys in the low post that were tough and could protect the rim. And none of these guys had any issues with laying wood to someone at the rim.
Think back to the Cavs series. Do you remember Ibaka competing? How about trying a post move? Low-post defense? Oh, but he did command that $20 million dollar a year salary.
Am I making headway? Let’s check out Valanciunas. Valanciunas was the key to beating the Cavs last year. Everyone in the NBA should know Cleveland is very soft on the front line. Tristan Thompson was doing more in the tabloids at the time than the court. Kevin Love can’t guard anybody in the post and the team’s back-line defense overall was considered one of the worst in the NBA. Valanciunas should have destroyed the Cavs frontline. Did not happen. Plus, with his high priced contract, he could be moved if the right deal presents itself, and Monroe fills in nicely at a bargain basement price. Saves a ton on the books.
Now that I’m on a roll let’s discuss Siakam. Even though Siakam was put into one of the most iconic LeBron James highlights of his career hitting the game winner in Game 3 to basically end the series last season, Siakam is the best player out of the bunch. Only one problem: He’s only going into his third year. Monroe can serve as a mentor, provide leadership and show him how to be a professional. Siakam will need a calming influence going into this season with all of the changes and distractions going on surrounding the franchise altering trade. Monroe fits that bill.
Speaking of distractions, Leonard could very easily walk after this season. Look everyone, I get it. Oklahoma City shocked the NBA world when they convinced Paul George to stay signing him to a long term deal. Sorry, but the team and the situation and the player in question are different. Monroe is a free agent signing that doesn’t have one eye on Los Angeles, nor does his salary take anything off the table beyond 2018-19. There are so many rumors about Leonard and his yearning for L.A. someone could set up a website and make a killing off of it.
For a team that was a little thin at the center position and a little light on toughness and rebounding a few days ago, signing Monroe on such a cap-friendly deal could be an underrated part of a busy offseason for the Raptors.
Note: This is a guest post from Ronald Agers.