Return of the Greg?

Pistons power forward Greg Monroe’s contract is up. He has been in the NBA for four years and is no closer to an NBA title than the day he was drafted with the Pistons’ first round pick in the 2010 Draft.

This last season, defense was a major issue for Monroe due to the fact that the team’s three big men had trouble discerning their defensive roles. Monroe’s average rebounds, blocks and steals all decreased the past season compared to the previous year before small forward Josh Smith was added to the roster.

In February, reports surfaced that Monroe’s agent David Falk, who represents many highly-paid NBA stars, will expect around a four-year, $58 million deal. Averaged out to $14.5 million a year, Monroe would earn about a million more than Smith, who currently holds the biggest contract in franchise history.

Regardless of whether or not Monroe deserves this contract, Stan Van Gundy has implied heavily in a recent interview that he envisions Monroe and center Andre Drummond as integral parts of the team.

According to Van Gundy, the team functions well offensively when two big men take the court. Omitting a reference to Smith by name in the interview, Van Gundy pointed to Monroe and Drummond as those two men on the court, and Van Gundy voiced concern that the defense still struggled nonetheless.

From this point, Van Gundy could go several ways with the team. He could give Monroe the money he wants, but that would potentially limit his ability to make future signings. It is a dangerous road pioneering the next three or so years missing a first-round draft pick. And two players, holding lucrative contracts, can limit future free agent signings.

Whatever Van Gundy’s ultimate plan is, so far, it seems like it will be efficient, and last week’s personnel changes point to that. Especially with the team’s future handicaps, efficiency may be a saving grace.

Colin Jackson is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.