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Greg Monroe: Pistons ‘have the upper hand’

And the back-and-forth speculation continues.

Barely a week after it was reported that a deal between the New York Knicks and soon-to-be free agent Greg Monroe was “about as close as you can get“, Monroe continues to encourage folks to pump the brakes on his departure, most recently suggesting his current team, the Detroit Pistons, may remain the front-runner for his services thus far.

“I don’t know why people have the notion or the thought that I am just out of here already, like it is one foot out the door,” Monroe said, as reported by Terry Foster of the Detroit News. “At the end of the day, I am going to do what any free agent would do. I will listen to everybody and assess it.

“I have ties here; I have been here (in Detroit) my whole (adult) life. They drafted me, so of course I am going to listen to them with the same ear as I listen to everybody else. They have the upper hand.”

Considering the delicate dance of contract negotiations has been unofficially underway for the duration of the 2014-2015 regular season, it may be worth taking Monroe’s comments with a grain of salt on account of keeping one’s options open.

When Monroe signed a one-year, $5.5 million qualifying offer with the Pistons last summer, it allowed Detroit to retain his Bird Rights. Essentially, this means the Pistons will be the only club capable of signing Monroe to a five-year contract (other teams can only offer a maximum of four) while exceeding their own salary cap to retain his services. When considering that Bird Rights also provide steeper year-to-year raises, that means that while other teams may be able to offer something in the range of a four-year deal worth $66 million, the Pistons can provide a five-year offer that could touch the $90 million mark.

For Monroe, it may be about weighing one’s willingness to leave versus maxing out one’s monetary worth. Even if he were leaning toward the former, it’s wise to keep his options open in the meantime.

Meanwhile, Pistons head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy has remained similarly open, repeatedly stating his preference for Monroe to return to Detroit next season, all while acknowledging the potential financial difficulty in doing so.

“We want Greg back, we want Reggie back,” Van Gundy said last Wednesday before the Pistons defeated the Knicks in their regular season finale. “Again, they all have decisions to make in the whole thing. Our decision process will obviously be what to offer and all of that, but we want those guys back. And then we’ve got to talk about all of our other guys, too.”

For now, it’s a stalemate. Words are being said and assertions are being made, but we may not know the real truth until free agency officially hits. The countdown to July 1 has already begun.

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