Two seasons ago, the Detroit Pistons' future seemed pretty straightforward: Andre Drummond an Greg Monroe would, in time, together form one of the most imposing frontcourts in the league. Last summer, though, things got complicated when Josh Smith was added in free agency as then–general manager Joe Dumars tried to make a push for the playoffs. The three did not fit together, and, with Monroe's restricted free agency coming up this summer, many thought his days in Detroit were numbered.
New Pistons president and head coach Stan Van Gundy made it clear he was a Monroe fan as soon as he took the job. Now he has spoken even more strongly about the tandem, via Pistons.com's Keith Langlois:
“I think it is an ideal pairing,” he said. “If I look at just the film I've watched now and looking at the numbers, you would say that Greg and Andre together were great offensively. That was a great combination on the offensive end of the floor, especially when the three guys around them were shooters – more conventional perimeter types. That worked very, very well. Now, it didn't work very well defensively. I think it puts a lot of responsibility on Greg Monroe to have to guard out on the perimeter.
“But I think there are things we can do in terms of schemes and things that would make it a little easier on Greg to make that unit better defensively and then take advantage of the offensive end of the floor.
Van Gundy added that he likes Monroe even more than he did before going over film -- "I love Greg Monroe," he said -- but he couldn't predict exactly what would happen in restricted free agency and his situation was "up in the air."
Pistons fans will likely be most pleased by the fact Van Gundy directly addressed the fact that Monroe, Drummond and Smith didn't play well as a trio. It's only logical, then, that he'll see what the trade market is like for Smith if he is able to work out a deal with Monroe.
Van Gundy knows how rare it is to have two big men as young and talented as those two. Reconstructing the rest of the roster will remain tricky, but locking up Monroe would be a nice first move if it can be done affordably.