June 24, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Pistons develop game plan for Greg Monroe's free agency

Stan Van Gundy knows what the Pistons will do when Greg Monroe is a restricted free agent July 1. (Clarence Tabb Jr. / Detroit News)

Auburn Hills — Stan Van Gundy was coy and admittedly evasive about Greg Monroe’s upcoming free agency, but suspense isn’t a part of the equation.

Monroe will become a restricted free agent come July 1, and Van Gundy said he’s spent countless hours evaluating every possible scenario.

“We’ve already made that decision, talked that through with ownership,” Van Gundy said. “If July 11, he presents us with an offer sheet, we’ve made that decision already. We know what the implications are for that decision, the advantages and disadvantages.”

While some are sure Monroe will remain a Piston — and certainly the likelihood points to it — Van Gundy seems to be prepared for all options, saying he’s evaluated potential offers from suitors “through every million dollar increment.”

Andre Drummond’s emergence has made Monroe move from his natural position of center, and Josh Smith’s presence has crowded the interior even more.

The ESPN report of the Pistons trying to move Smith to the Sacramento Kings, right on the heels of Thursday night’s draft and Monroe getting ready to hit the open market, seems to have peculiar timing at the least.

It’s almost an open secret the Pistons would like to get from under Smith’s remaining three years at $13.5 million each, but what isn’t known is how the Pistons view having Smith within the prism of Monroe’s free agency.

“You could be in a situation (three years from now) where you have three guys who make over $13 million on your roster,” said Van Gundy, with the third being if Drummond signs a max contract when he hits restricted free agency after his fourth year.

“There’s a good chance, just on the duplication on the roster, one of them comes off your bench. We’ve looked at that down the road.”

There’s a growing sense among some Monroe could sign the one-year qualifying offer of $5.4 million, then become an unrestricted free agent next summer, which takes away all the leverage the Pistons hold.

When asked if he had a ceiling for what the Pistons would match, given Monroe’s restricted status, Van Gundy admitted he wasn’t being as transparent as usual.

“Maybe or maybe not. I don’t want to commit publicly to what we’d do, whether it’s a max offer or below,” Van Gundy said.

“I’m being honest about being evasive. The decision has been made.”

If history is a guide — and there’s no reason to think Van Gundy would deviate from what could be termed “NBA common sense, 101” — the Pistons would probably overpay Monroe, even if they don’t view him as being a “max player”.

“I think teams think it’s better, especially with young guys, to have an asset, even that’s overpaid, that can bring value down the road rather than having a guy go for nothing,” Van Gundy said.

But, it seems to come with a bit of a caveat, which is why Van Gundy openly speaks about signing and trading Monroe to another team as opposed to letting him walk for nothing.

The Pistons wouldn’t necessarily have to match a max offer if an opposing team was ready to sign Monroe to one, and if they had assets Van Gundy considered attractive, the two sides could arrange a mutually beneficial deal.

But if said team didn’t have any assets, the Pistons could merely match the max offer and hold onto him.

“It’s an indication of how much I value him,” Van Gundy said.

“I think Greg Monroe is a very good young big guy. The fair thing to say is we either want him back or we want good value for him. I’m trying to watch my words a little bit.”

“The only thing I wouldn’t be comfortable with is making a deal because I got forced into it. We’re not doing that. We will not make a trade … we’ll make a trade we like or won’t make a trade.”

“There’s a lot of options and we’re comfortable with all of them. On the parts we can control. We’ll be OK no matter what. There can’t be a trade we don’t like.

“And we have control over whether Greg is here next year.”

Van Gundy said he’s watched the process happen with JJ Redick and Marcin Gortat, two former Magic players who went out and got offer sheets from other teams, but never from an executive position.

“You have to have a plan,” Van Gundy said.

“ ‘If this happens, what’s next for us?’ We know where we’re headed. To me, that situation, we know exactly where we’re headed. There’s not a lot of anxiety.”

NBA draft

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

TV: ESPN

Pistons pick: No. 38

Local talent: Michigan — G Nik Stauskas, C Mitch McGary, F Glenn Robinson III. Michigan State — G Gary Harris, F Adreian Payne, G Keith Appling. Oakland — G Travis Bader

Top 10 picks: 1. Cleveland. 2. Milwaukee. 3. Phiadelphia. 4. Orlando. 5. Utah. 6. Boston. 7. L.A. Lakers. 8. Sacramento. 9. Charlotte (from Detroit). 10. Philadelphia (from New Orleans)

Free agency

July 1-9: Teams can talk to players but can’t sign them. Salary cap is set.

July 10: Teams can sign free agent and complete trades.

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