According to Yahoo’s Shams Charania, veteran big man Greg Monroe has agreed to a one-year contract with the Toronto Raptors. There were a few whispers on the wind that a deal like this was coming, and with the Raps very much looking for low cost frontcourt help heading into the 2018-19 season, it’s a situation that makes some sense.
Here’s the report from Shams:
Monroe is signing a one-year, $2.2M deal with Toronto, league sources said. The veteran center is joining a contender in the Eastern Conference. https://t.co/oLrtvPV6IQ— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 6, 2018
Monroe joins the 2018-19 Raptors as a 6’11”, 27-year-old centre in the old school sense; listed at 265 pounds, he’s called Moose for a reason. The former seventh overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Monroe has career averages of 13.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. It’s been this last stat, and his overall ability to move the ball from the high post at the elbows, that’s kept Monroe relevant as an NBA big man as the league has gone quicker and more versatile.
Last season saw Monroe ping-pong from the Bucks, where he was traded for Eric Bledsoe despite working as a useful centre off the bench for Milwaukee, to the Suns, where he was waived after appearing in 20 games, before ending up in Boston as, yep, more big man insurance. In 26 games with the Celtics, Monroe put up 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in just 19.1 minutes per game, while shooting 53 percent from the field, and 80 percent from the line. (For the record: Monroe has career shooting splits of 52/00/71 — that’s right, he doesn’t shoot threes.) It should be noted here though that Monroe’s playoff minutes dropped down to under 10 a game in the 2018 postseason for Boston.
For the Raptors, Monroe likely represents the best and cheapest back-up centre option on the board. (It also signifies the team is well and truly done dealing with Lucas Nogueira.) While it stands to reason the majority of Toronto’s rotation will remain similar — with its sudden surplus of flexible 2s, 3s and 4s — Monroe can sub in for either Jonas Valanciunas or Serge Ibaka at centre. He’s also far, far more seasoned than Toronto’s only other big man Chris Boucher (who may not actually make the team). For a Toronto team that was already thin up front and very reliant on Valanciunas’ defensive rebounding chops, Monroe offers a solidly consistent skill-set.
While Monroe does not offer any of the shooting range that Valanciunas and Ibaka provide, he does give Toronto another heady ball-mover. Raptors coach Nick Nurse is known to like big men with passing ability, and if the team wasn’t going to go back to Bebe, Monroe’s signing is workable. (Monroe is decidedly more aware player than Ibaka, in any case.) On top of that, Monroe gives Toronto some straight up brute force at the rim — and he has also been known to not run away from a fight.
On the downside though is Monroe’s defensive ability. Like Valanciunas, Monroe is decidedly not fleet of foot, and really does duplicate a lot of the things JV is already bringing to Toronto. It should also be mentioned that Monroe is not much of a shot blocker at all, which is another weakness of his game. Obviously Valanciunas can’t play the whole game, and it’s good to have insurance (especially if JV should get injured), but Toronto may find that its best lineups come when the team goes small with Kawhi Leonard at the four, and perhaps Pascal Siakam at centre (which is a wild sentence to write).
Still, at a reported $2.2 million, this is a low-cost, high-upside deal for Toronto. They have some options at centre now, they’ve added a steady bench presence with some muscle, and can put together a little more playmaking in the frontcourt. Sure, maybe Monroe doesn’t offer Toronto a ton of “soul”, but he’ll get the job done.