The Phoenix Suns have been linked to restricted free agent Greg Monroe frequently over the last few weeks, but rumors have run rampant after this Jordan Schultz tweet.
A man of few skills
It's difficult to imagine why the Suns would even be considering Monroe. The power forward/center does two things well: rebounding and posting up. He was a top 20 rebounder (9.3 rpg), but better yet, he did a great job of picking up Josh Smith clankers, averaging 3.1 offensive rebounds a game, which ranks 9th in the league. As far as post ups go, he's good, but not great. Monroe shoots 53% within five feet of the basket. That's a decent number, but not exactly anything to write home about when you look at fellow post-bully Al Jefferson's 62% mark. Monroe's got a decent hook shot, but it's nothing on Big Al's.
I'm not kidding when I say that these are Monroe's only two skills. He can't hit the broadside of a barn with his jump shot. Within 8-16 feet of the basket, Monroe hit a lukewarm 44% of his shots, but anything beyond that drops down to an abysmal 24%. Yikes.
The guy can't jump over a phone book, or move well laterally. His .6 blocks per game are shameful for his size. Monroe has trouble guarding agile 4's like Thaddeus Young, and doesn't quite have the strength to guard big 5's. So, with Monroe you get two things, and only two things: boards and post ups.
A bad fit
Could the Suns use a good rebounder and a post-up threat? Yes on the rebounding, but I'm not convinced on the post-up option. Post-ups are just not an effective way to score points, and the league is moving further and further from them. The Suns could survive with just Markieff Morris's improved post play, as they did last season. Adding a post presence like Monroe wouldn't be a bad thing, if only he could step out of the lane and hit a jump shot. But that's the problem with Monroe; he needs the lane to operate.
Monroe would absolutely eviscerate Phoenix's beautifully spaced floor. The Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe pairing is predicated on slash and kicks, pick and rolls/pops, and defenders being pulled out. With Monroe in the fold, that all goes away. He'd pull defenders into the lane, and his jump shot isn't soon luring any of them out. Monroe needs to be fed the ball in a grind it out style, so he can barrel his way through the key. He's a decent passer from the post, but he's not good enough to tailor the entire offense around him.
Moose's tweener status is problematic as well, and I'm not sure which position the Suns would put him at. If he starts at the center spot, the starting unit has zero rim protection, and the frontcourt would look pretty slow with him and Markieff. The lane would be horribly clogged on offense, with both big men contending for post positioning. I don't like the idea of Monroe at 5, but the thought of him at power forward is somehow worse. Going from Channing Frye to Greg Monroe would be disastrous for spacing, and there would be no shooting whatsoever outside of the point guard position. You can get away with one or two guys who can't shoot in the starting lineup (and only if P.J. Tucker is hitting the occasional corner 3), but three is lottery-bound.
Adding Monroe to the team would require a complete rehaul of the offense. Phoenix's offense works a lot better with a floor-stretching big man, and the defense needs a rim protector. Monroe cannot fill either of those roles; he is not worth scrapping the playbook over.
By the way, it'll cost you
If you're not already convinced that Monroe would be a bad fit on the Suns, I haven't even mentioned the contract he'll demand. Monroe is looking for a max contract, and with Detroit reportedly expressing an intention to match any offer he gets, it would probably take a max to call their bluff, or overzealous commitment to Monroe, whichever it is. His max would look similar to Bledsoe's max, landing somewhere in the $15 million range. Considering Big Al has about a $13.7 million a year contract, a max for Moose seems like an overpay. Now, Monroe is only 24, and could still improve. But a max for a big guy that offers zilch on the defensive end seems like a recipe for trouble.
Monroe might be worth a max elsewhere, but he shouldn't be to the Suns. He could very well be a nice fit somewhere that plays a slow, grind it out pace, and has a rim protector to back him up. But that ain't Phoenix.
In addition to clogging up the paint, Monroe would stop up Phoenix's cap for the next few years as well. Assuming Bledsoe resigns for somewhere in the $12-15 range, signing Monroe could effectively take the Suns out of any big name free agent hopes in 2015 and 2016 if they plan to keep Dragic, who will be due for a pay raise.
Signing Monroe to a max contract or anything close to it would be a disaster all around. He simply does not fit on the current roster, and his play style would not fit the offense. Monroe's a decent player, but he does not belong in the valley. The Suns need to stay to course, and not spend money just for the sake of spending money. The power forward spot is a position of need after Frye's departure, but Monroe is not the answer.