Former Boston Celtics big man Greg Monroe has agreed to a minimum deal with the Toronto Raptors, Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports reports.
Monroe spent the final portion of the 2017-18 season with the Celtics but found his way out of the rotation during the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Raptors had been on the prowl for a big man after including center Jakob Poeltl in the trade that brought them star small forward Kawhi Leonard and shooting guard Danny Green. Monroe now joins a rotation that includes conventional bigs Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas. Toronto’s defensive-minded forward, Pascal Siakam, will also get time at the 4 and 5 spots.
The 28-year-old Monroe, who will make $2.2 million with Toronto, is coming off his most trying NBA season. He fell out of favor early in the year with the Milwaukee Bucks, who flipped him to the Phoenix Suns for Eric Bledsoe in November. He negotiated a buyout with Phoenix later in the winter and signed with Boston at the beginning of February.
He averaged 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds over 19.1 minutes over what was mostly a consistent regular-season role with the Celtics. He received legitimate playing time over the first few games of Boston’s first-round playoff matchup against Milwaukee. But he plummeted to the bench from there, playing more than seven minutes in a game only once over the Celtics’ final 16 postseason matches.
The Celtics, who are loaded with quick wings and switchy defenders, will replace Monroe with more versatile defenders. Monroe’s defensive struggles (which include offenses targeting him in pick-and-rolls and exploiting him in space) can show against talented teams during seven-game series. The Celtics have shown a preference for contributors who can guard multiple positions. They’ve added only one big man, first-round pick Robert Williams III, this summer, but can use conventional small forwards who are tough enough to play a position down to fill in at the 4 spot.
They project a starting lineup of point guard Kyrie Irving, a bunch of wings (Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward) and center Al Horford. Take your pick who the power forward is of that group. They can fill in with the burly Aron Baynes when they need size. They can use forward Marcus Morris at the 4-spot. They can elevate the roles of Daniel Theis, a more quick-footed center than Monroe who can also take 3s, or Semi Ojeleye, a forward built for 1990s bully ball.
Monroe’s departure is no surprise. Boston’s roster met the league maximum of 15 guaranteed players when the organization signed guard and former two-way player Jabari Bird to at the end of July.
The Raptors will be Monroe’s fifth team. He has averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds for his career.
Fred Katz covers the Celtics for MassLive.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.