Two of the most important cogs behind the Pistons’ recent 9-1 surge appear to be on the radar of at least one club out there, but that doesn’t mean Detroit’s interested.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Los Angeles Lakers have been active on the phones since mid-December, and that’s apparently included inquiring about the availability of Greg Monroe & Brandon Jennings.
As for Lakers, they have been very active since 12/15. Made calls on Waiters, Jennings, Monroe. Asst GM Glen Carraro is working the phones.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 12, 2015
To be clear, such inquiries do not necessarily suggest a two-way street. Nothing is stopping the Pistons from listening to those who call with interest in their assets. But from the Lakers’ perspective, it’s uncertain why they’d be interested in these two now, and whether they’d have anything the Pistons would actually want in return.
The Lakers currently stand at 12-26, and while their record is comparable to to Detroit’s, it appears these are two teams heading in complete opposite directions. The Pistons have thrived in the post-Josh Smith era, winning 9 of their last 10. Meanwhile, the Lakers appear to be biding their time, likely playing out the string and hoping to retain their draft pick in this year’s draft (which must be delivered to Phoenix if it’s not in the top five, per agreement from the Steve Nash trade two years ago).
With that in mind, it may make little sense for the Lakers to deal for Monroe now, particularly when considering he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. Unless the Lakers front office has a steadfast belief in a Pistons-like turnaround (though 38 wins isn’t going to earn a playoff spot in the West), it seems the Lakers would be better served waiting for the off-season to make a push for Monroe, as opposed to attempting to exchange assets in the midst of a lost season.
Meanwhile, the Lakers’ supposed interest in Jennings could make things a little more interesting. Jennings is a Compton native with an uncomfortable fanaticism toward Kobe Bryant.
However, NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman weighs in with a counterpoint:
Why would the Lakers want Jennings now? Anything he provides this season is for naught, and though he’s under contract for an affordable $8,344,497 next season, the Lakers play in a market where they can target bigger free agents. Jennings would just cut into the Lakers’ cap space.
Jennings has been nothing if not streaky during his time as a Detroit Piston. During one particularly miserable stretch in mid-December, he was scoring just five points a night on 20% shooting (though a balky thumb may have shared some of the blame).
However, since Christmas, Jennings has been absolutely crucial to the Pistons’ recent turnaround. After spending the first two months of the season wondering whether there’d be anyone in the league willing to take Jennings off Detroit’s hands, the new question seems to be this: How big of a trade package would it take to convince Stan Van Gundy to part ways with his streaking lefty?
Is Los Angeles a legit player when it comes to acquiring Greg Monroe and/or Brandon Jennings? Considering Detroit’s recent cohesion and lack of general sensibility from L.A.’s end, we wouldn’t count on it.