The door is finally closed on Greg Monroe returning to the Pistons. He said during a basketball clinic in his home state of Louisiana on Saturday that he plans on meeting with four or five teams in free agency and that the Pistons are not one of them.
Monroe, who has been with the Pistons since the team drafted him in the first round in 2010, will be a free agent beginning on Wednesday.
The Pistons already moved in a different direction by trading for stretch four Ersan Ilyasova, a 6-foot-10 power forward that Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said will move into the starting lineup. They also drafted 6-6 small forward Stanley Johnson, who is strong enough to play Monroe's spot in a pinch.
Monroe said he wants to go to a team that is ready to win and he wants to be the final piece.
"Stan had smaller teams in Orlando years ago," Monroe told the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate. "Dre (Andre Drummond) is like Dwight Howard. So Stan wants to put good players around him. The team has different plans and I respect that. I don't want to be anywhere I'm not wanted."
Monroe played most of his five seasons out of position. He is a center, not a power forward. He can play that position, for example with the New York Knicks, one of the teams he plans to visit. The Knicks, 17-65 last season, are not ready to win, but the charm of Phil Jackson and the lure of New York could be enticing. The Knicks also do not have a center.
The other teams he is expected to visit are the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trailblazers. He is also interested in his home state New Orleans Pelicans. Both of the Pelicans centers, Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca, are unrestricted free agents.
"I'd love to play and represent this city," Monroe said of New Orleans. "Obviously, they have a guy like Anthony Davis, who is a superstar already, and he's only going to get better. I think I could play well with him. Our games complement each other. I'm a low-post scorer. Obviously he's a great midrange player."
In separate interviews, both Pistons owner Tom Gores and Van Gundy refused to totally shut the door on Monroe, although Van Gundy admitted chances of signing him were very small.
"We respect Greg a lot and Stan and Jeff (Bowers) needed to secure that position," Gores said. "Greg is a very respected player in the whole league. But the door is never closed."
Butler looking at release
Caron Butler, traded to the Bucks in the deal that netted the Pistons Ersan Ilyasova, is expected to be released by Milwaukee on Wednesday, the first day of free agency.
The Bulls, Clippers and Spurs are expected to give him a call, along with possibly the Lakers and Knicks.
Butler, a 13-year veteran, has been mostly a career backup in the NBA, though he started down the stretch for the Pistons last season. He is also a good veteran dressing room presence.
Butler said he thought the Pistons might offer him a front-office position after he retired. But he was traded to the Bucks along with Shawne Williams for Ilyasova. Williams is also looking at a likely releas by the Bucks.
Butler has a non-guaranteed $4.5 million contract for 2015-16. Williams' $1.4 million contract for the coming season also is non-guaranteed.