The NBA has changed drastically from the NBA that our fathers once knew. The evolution and effectiveness of the jump shot and the increase in foul calls in the paint area have combined to result in the slow extinction of dominant big men over the years. The days of Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon imposing their will on opponents has turned into Steph Curry and Chris Paul using their craftiness and sharpshooting to take over games. A quality big man has become a commodity for teams across the Association. This shows by the Celtics throwing Al Horford a 4-year $113 Million contract ($28 Million per year) and the Hawks throwing Dwight Howard a 3-year $70 Million contract ($23 Million per year) this past offseason to try to capture some solid consistent play out of a center. This is what the Bucks intended when they offered free agent Greg Monroe a 3-year $51 Million contract ($17 Million per year) after the 2015 season, making him the 6th highest paid center in the Association.
The 6’11” center was drafted 7th overall out of Georgetown University in the 2010 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. In Detroit, Monroe showed great promise, improving each year he was there. In his last season with the Pistons, Monroe played 31 minutes a game, averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds. He continued his solid play in his first season with the Bucks playing 30 minutes a game and averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds. The Bucks had reasons to be optimistic heading into the 2016/17 season. Monroe would continue to produce alongside emerging superstars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.
However, Monroe’s career has taken a drastic step backwards in his 7th season as the Bucks seem to be moving in a different direction from Monroe. So far this year, Monroe has played only 20 minutes a game, averaging 9 points and 6 reboundse, all well below his career averages. This raises many questions as to why Monroe has fallen to 3rd on the depth chart behind Miles Plumlee and John Henson in his age 26 season, which is arguably the front-end of the prime years for NBA players.
The Bucks have been very aggressive in the trade market looking to move Monroe. However, his contract poses an issue. He has 2 years left on his contract for $17 Million per year and then a player option for $18 Million for the 3rd year. This heavy contract doesn’t have many teams answering the Bucks calls when it comes to unloading him. With Monroe riding the bench, he is not producing enough to prove to other teams that his contact is worth it. The Bucks won’t cut Monroe either because he is too talented and they have dumped too much money into him to part ways for nothing in return.
Monroe has proven to be a low post scoring force and an above average rebounder. However, he is known to have limited shooting range and has noticeable flaws on the defensive side of the ball. These flaws along with his contract look to be outweighing his upsides at this point in time. So for now, Monroe will sit on the bench in Milwaukee waiting and watching. It will be interesting to see if a team takes a chance on Monroe and takes on his contract before the February 23rd trade deadline. My prediction is that Greg Monroe won’t be in a Bucks uniform come the trade deadline and he will be on a contending team producing the way the old Greg Monroe once did.