Is Trading Greg Monroe Something the Milwaukee Bucks Should Consider?

Jan 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) works against Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) works against Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Since this season is lost anyway, should the Milwaukee Bucks cut their losses and trade Greg Monroe?

Greg Monroe has been great on the Milwaukee Bucks. He’s been the best player on the team all season, both according to pretty much every advanced metric and the eye test.

His defense has looked suspect at times, but he’s been as good or better than pretty much all of his teammates. On offense, Monroe has been transcendent.

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There aren’t five NBA players better in the post than Moose, and he’s flashed a bit of range from farther from the basket as well, shooting 43 percent on long two-pointers (from 16 feet to the arc).

Based on all that, it seems like Milwaukee obviously shouldn’t trade him. Unfortunately, things are never so simple in the NBA. Trading Monroe right now wouldn’t be based on him not living up to expectations, but instead on the entire team not playing up to par.

When he came to Milwaukee, Monroe signed a two-year deal with a player option for the third season. Based on his play, the rising salary cap and how poor the Bucks have been, there’s not a chance in hell he takes that option.

Monroe stands to make far more money and pick his own situation in the summer of 2017, and he’s smart for structuring his contract that way.

Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports /

But that basically means that the Bucks only have Monroe for two years, meaning next year he’ll essentially be on an expiring deal. So trading him right now would be the optimal time, in terms of value. Monroe has done everything asked of him and more, and would be available for two postseasons to any team he ended up with.

The Bucks could get themselves some draft picks or established young talent, and thus finish the season even worse than they are now and add another high lottery pick to whatever haul they got from the hypothetical Greg Monroe deal.

Now, it seems smart to trade him. But life in the NBA isn’t simple, remember? Trading Monroe would have bigger impacts than just moving around pieces on the ESPN NBA Trade Machine.

First off, it potentially doesn’t look good for the Bucks front office. Sure, Moose wants to win and could be dealt to a team faring better than the Bucks are right now. On the other hand, the Bucks just punted on their biggest free agency signing in franchise history after some 35 games.

Other free agents will notice how quickly Milwaukee gave up on their supposed key signing. The entire point of signing longer deals is so a player can stay in a situation they’re comfortable in. Monroe picked Milwaukee, not some other team that he gets traded to.

Trading Greg Monroe could also leave a negative impression on the other current Bucks. These guys may not be winning right now, but this core has only had a few months together. Giving up on Monroe is essentially giving up on the entire core–who else is really safe?

Maybe Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker are, but the rest of the young talent in Milwaukee might not feel so secure. The last thing the Bucks need is unhappiness in the locker room thanks to guys like Khris Middleton and John Henson fearing that they’re going to be the next to get dealt for some future draft picks and roster flexibility.

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It’s just too soon to give up on this group. Sure, the Milwaukee Bucks aren’t playing up to standards. That doesn’t mean the core is inherently flawed. Half of the Bucks’ rotation have three or fewer years of experience in the NBA, and no player who gets regular minutes is older than 28.

These aren’t veterans that are unable to play together, they’re young guys who haven’t learned to mesh yet. That’s how young teams work. There are flashes of excellence in almost every game the Bucks play. Those flashes are glimpses of what the team is really capable of, once these young guys develop into real NBA players.

Even if Greg Monroe does decide to opt out after next season, at least force him to consider re-upping with the Bucks. Things in Milwaukee could be a whole lot different a year from now. Jabari will have a full season under his belt, plus Giannis and Middleton will be that much better.

Even auxiliary pieces like Henson, Michael Carter-Williams, Johnny O’Bryant, Rashad Vaughn, and Tyler Ennis should develop more by that point. This team might actually be good by the first part of 2017, Monroe’s last guaranteed time in Milwaukee.

Trading him now feels like giving up on that happening so early. Sure, the Milwaukee Bucks have struggled. That’s nothing new to this franchise. But the promise of a better tomorrow is kind of new.

Let’s not give up on it so soon because of a setback.

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With all that being said, it’s important to note this applies only to trades to essentially tank this season. There are some deals that are always a good idea–if it’s possible to acquire a guy like DeMarcus Cousins, then you kind of trade whoever you need to trade, within reason.