The Lakers started their free agency off on an awful note, a two-hour meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge leaving him frustrated that they focused more on marketing glitz than X’s and O’s substance. The Lakers also missed out on their next target in Greg Monroe, who agreed to a three-year, $50 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
But even if he turned down the Lakers less than 24 hours after meeting them for two hours in Washington D.C. on July 1, Monroe had nothing to complain about the Lakers’ pitch.
“There wasn’t anything they did wrong. I just made the best decision for me,” Monroe said in an interview with Los Angeles News Group. “It wasn’t anything they didn’t do or did do.”
The Lakers’ meeting with Monroe did not feature officials with AEG and Time Warner Cable as they had in their previous meeting with Aldridge. But Monroe declined to discuss anything regarding his free agency, including his meeting with the Lakers. Nonetheless, Monroe maintained he’s “happy to be here” despite the Milwaukee Bucks (10-15) entering Tuesday’s game against the Lakers (3-21) at Staples Center with the Eastern Conference’s third-worst record. Monroe also declined the New York Knicks (11-14), which only has a one-game edge over Milwaukee in the standings.
“I think we can be really good,” said Monroe, mindful the Bucks have a young core in Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Michael-Carter Williams. “We have to continue to put the work in and trust each other and continue to grow. As long as we do that, the sky is the limit.”
So much that Monroe believes the Bucks should make the NBA playoffs this season. They made the postseason in Jason Kidd’s first year coaching from the sideline, though the Bucks lost to Chicago in six games in the first round.
So much that Monroe hardly sounded surprised the Bucks handed the Golden State Warriors their first loss after 25 games. That result also foiled Golden State’s quest to top the 1971-72 Lakers for the NBA’s longest winning streak (33 games).
“We have to find ways to play like that more consistently,” Monroe said. “The ball movement was good. Defensively we were able to create a few turnovers. Being able to get out and run. I think that’s probably our thing right there. Getting stops and being able to get out and run. If you can’t run, then move the ball and take the best shot possible.”
Monroe has averaged 16.2 points on 52.5 percent shooting and 9.8 rebounds in 31.4 minutes per game, which exceeded his five-year NBA career averages with the Detroit Pistons. There, Monroe averaged 14.4 points on 50.7 percent shooting and 9.2 rebounds in 31.3 minutes. When he played in Detroit for the first time since his defection, Monroe posted 14 points and 13 rebounds in what he thought “was a pretty good reception.”
“Fans are fans and are loyal to their teams. I understand it,” Monroe said. “I was more focused on getting a win. I’m always thankful for the support that city and the fans gave me, but I’ve moved on.”