Rewind back to February 3rd, 2018, when Greg Monroe signed as a free agent to the Boston Celtics with a 1-year, $5 million deal. The acquisition took a chunk out of the DPE (Disabled Player Exception) granted by the league in compensation for Gordon Hayward’s season-ending injury, a total sum of $8.4 million dollars. With a large contingent of rookies up and down the roster, Danny Ainge was looking to add veteran experience to the mix. The former Georgetown Hoya’s resume was stacked with previous stints in Detroit, Milwaukee and Phoenix. Monroe has always been the kind of guy to efficiently manufacture his own shot, which we witnessed this first hand on many occasions as he routinely worked over Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk.
The Boston fan base, starved of an old-school, bruising big man, welcomed and applauded the signing of Moose. Monroe chose Boston over his hometown New Orleans, and the Celtics organization looked upon him to provide immediate depth to the front court and, more importantly, provide a much-needed spark as a bench scorer.
The early returns in green illustrated that Monroe had a long-forgotten NBA talent: a deft and crafty low-post game. His superb touch around basket was evident when given extended time on the court. The Celtic faithful heralded his willingness to bang down low.
Moose is Loose
Monroe posted good returns through a heavy March and April schedule which would see the Celtics play a total of 12 road games from 20 fixtures. Throughout this period, Greg was extremely productive, averaging 10.9 pts and 6.7 reb per outing. A late-season triple-double against a feisty Chicago squad proved to be a real standout performance. Moose displayed brilliant passing from the high and low post. His pairing with Jabari Bird proved notable as Bird (Jabari) was able to feast on a series of late back-door cuts which Monroe expertly delivered on a platter. Both players were instrumental in the short-handed victory amid a brutal wave of injuries.
The playoffs, however, proved to be not as kind to Greg Monroe. Against his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks, execution errors creeped into his game, and a few brutal stretches of turnovers forced Brad Stevens to use Monroe only in brief spurts. The return of Marcus Smart from a hand injury finally forced Monroe to the bench for games 4 through 7. The second-round matchup against the long and athletic Philadelphia 76ers also proved unfavourable, with Monroe playing only 13 minutes total in that series. By the time the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Eastern Conference finals had rolled around, Brad Stevens had shortened his rotation to 7-8 players, and Moose was left on the outside.
A new home?
This offseason, 28-year-old Greg Monroe will enter the free-agency market alongside a strong class of seasoned big men. The middle- and lower-tier talent in this bracket is considerable: Brook Lopez, Dewayne Dedmon, Kyle O’Quinn and Nerlens Noel to name a few. Greg Monroe will likely not return to Boston in 2018-2019, as Aron Baynes surely looks to be the focus of attention for Danny Ainge, Mike Zarren and the front office.
The knock on Moose has always been his mobility and lumbering nature. Defensively, he has proven to be a step slow against the modern-day agile 4s and 5s of the game who look to attack him one on one off the dribble. His lack of shot blocking and ineffectiveness on the defensive end made it hard for Brad Stevens to leave him on court in pressure situations. Monroe does, however, provide volume scoring and veteran leadership, which should fit in quite a few places. Young teams with cap room such as Brooklyn, Atlanta or Sacramento would benefit from a player like Greg Monroe. Those old-school players like Greg Monroe aren’t extinct yet, but they are on the endangered species list.