Rumors surfaced earlier linking the upcoming restricted free agent Greg Monroe to the Los Angeles Lakers. According to these reports, the Lakers are apparently preparing to make a run at the big man even if it means offering him a maximum contract.
One may ask why are these reports surfacing now? Well, the main reason is due to the recent Stan Van Gundy hiring. Van Gundy is a huge fan of Monroe, but there may not be a spot for Monroe if Josh Smith remains a member of the Detroit Pistons this summer. The trio of Smith, Monroe and Andre Drummond has already been proven to be an absolute disaster based on the team’s failure to meet even the lowest of expectations this season. Therefore, Van Gundy’s first major decision will be to either trade Smith and re-sign Monroe, or retain Smith and allow Monroe to walk. As of today, signs are pointing to a Monroe departure, so let’s dive into this head on.
Fans may be in uproar if Los Angeles handed a maximum contract to Monroe as they will likely believe this impacts making a run at Kevin Love in the summer of 2015. Lakers fans, I’m here to inform you this actually is not the case. Contrary to popular belief, the Lakers possess sufficient cap space to sign Monroe while preserving the ability to snag Love or Rajon Rondo next year. It will certainly take a ton of number crunching in addition to a lot of luck, but it is not out of the realm of possibility. According to the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, players with fewer than six years of NBA experience cannot be offered anymore than 25 percent of the current salary cap. If the current 2014-15 salary cap projection is correct ($63.2 million), this would put Monroe’s contract at an average of about $16 million per year. We then must factor in Los Angeles’ draft pick, projected to be sixth, putting the Lakers at a grand total of roughly $44 million entering the summer of 2015.
As you can tell, Mitch Kupchak will have his work cut out for him this summer if he decides to go the Monroe route. Remember this is a substantial amount of money just between three players — Kobe Bryant, Monroe and the rookie — therefore, every other roster spot must be filled with one-year contracts. In turn, this would ultimately mean no more Pau Gasol, Nick Young, Jordan Hill, etc. On the other hand, Los Angeles would establish themselves as a big-three team emulating the champion Miami Heat team. Would Monroe be the solution to what has been a mess in Los Angeles? Only time will tell. Is he worth the risk? 100 percent yes.