Greg Monroe. One Last Time.

I have written about Greg Monroe pretty extensively. I know you've probably read a good deal about him, both here and elsewhere. And I know that that it's extremely likely that you're sick of hearing about the Moose. But if it's OK with you, I'd like to bring him up.... one. last. time. Specifically, if a trade revolving around Greg Monroe and Rajon Rondo would make sense for the Boston Celtics

(if it's not OK with you; why did you click on this link? Feel like I pretty explicitly laid out that this is a Greg Monroe article in the title)

Before we get to Monroe, we should first discuss Rajon Rondo. Here's what we know; Jackie MacMullan, who is an incredible journalist, suggested in a taped off-air segment on 'Around the Horn' that Rajon Rondo has informed the Celtics that he wants out. A little while after, A. Sherrod Blakely, who is a less incredible journalist, reported that he's hearing that Rondo wants to start the season and Boston and 'see where it goes.'

So to recap; Rajon Rondo either wants out no matter what, or wants out unless the Boston Celtics dramatically improve. And here's the thing... they're probably not going to.

Now, before you go nuts, let me say that I think the Celtics will be a lot better than most. I think you'll see a dramatic improvement in play this season (whether Rondo's on the team or not). While we haven't seen the 'fireworks' we were promised, there has been significant roster upgrades throughout the summer. But still, this was a 25 win team last season. To suggest that this team could make the playoffs is foolish.

For this team to dramatically improve itself, it needs to do so by trade or free agency. And unfortunately for a Celtics team that really is going to need to spend this Summer, there might not be that much left in 2015 after several key free agents have extended. Marc Gasol would be a great land, but there's a strong chance he stays in Memphis. After that? You're looking at a list of very useful, but not franchise altering free agency class. Jimmy Butler, Aaron Afflalo, Brothers Lopez.

Without dramatic improvements to the roster, there is still one thing that could sway Rajon Rondo to stay; a 35 foot tall connect 4 game coptered onto his lawn!

But since they don't make 35 foot tall Connect 4 games, the only other alternative is a boat load of money.

Here's the thing, though; if they're not going to get significantly better next summer, do you really want the Celtics spending max-money on a 29.5 year old Rajon Rondo? Do you want to throw all that money at him in hopes that this team can turn around by the time he's 32 or so?

That brings us to Greg Monroe, who is by a wide-margin the single best player-asset the Celtics could conceivably get for Rondo*.

Much like Rondo, we often see Monroe more for what he is not, than what he actually is. What he is, is a 24 year old, 6 foot 11 inch center who has averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds in each of his past three seasons. He is a terrific offensive talent with room to grow, and if anyone could ever light a fire under him, he could turn into one of the best bigs in the league.

And all of that raw talent could potentially be had for just 60 million dollars over 5 seasons.

That's the going-rate for a quality NBA big man**. And that's a pretty reasonable amount for what Monroe does right now, never mind if he were to mature further. That's a real benefit. Moving forward, you can build knowing that you have the toughest position on the court filled by an above average player (again, with a high upside). You move forward with Smart, Bradley, Sullinger, Monroe, a bag full of picks, and roughly 25 million dollars in cap space stowed away for a rainy day.

It's not hard to invision Monroe and Sullinger as front court mates either. They compliment each other really, really well offensively. Monroe more of a post player, Sullinger better from mid range. And they're both exceptionally talented passers.

Defensively, they're less than desirable. But for what it's worth, Jared Sullinger's defensive abilities too often go overlooked. He can't block shots by any means, buy he's excellent at literally everything else. He's incredibly intelligent, always gets great position on the post, and is surprisingly fleet footed when it comes to his defensive rotations.

This post by Jay King from last year does a truly excellent job breaking what Sullinger's capable of, and it really is a must-read. Here's just a small excerpt. But again, you really, really should read it.

In the same way some players will forever be labeled “deceptively quick,” some of Sullinger's talents remain relatively camouflaged when they should stand out. His defense might always be underrated because of his body shape, because he does not block a lot of shots, because he does not fit the normal profile of a low-post stopper. Whereas Dwight Howard might be the Calvin Johnson of defenders – an athletic specimen seemingly born for success – Sullinger is decidedly non-Calvin-Johnsony. The 21-year-old power forward is more neutron than Megatron, a stabilizing force as opposed to an electric one.

Yet since Sullinger moved into the starting lineup four games ago, opposing starting centers are shooting a combined 21-for-57 (36.7 percent) against the Celtics. And even though Tim Duncan is having a slow start, the centers have been some of the game’s best. Neither Duncan, Roy Hibbert, Al Horford or Al Jefferson managed more points than field goal attempts against the Celtics

For as terrible as Monroe's lapses can be (and fair warning, the DX video above shows some pretty NSFW defensive lapses), his defensive stats actually show him to be... not so terrible?

Last year he held post ups to 34% and spot-up shooters to 42%, around league average. His isolation and pick and roll numbers are a little more frightening (though not too bad), but I've seen enough of Monroe to strongly believe that has a lot to do with coaching. Too often, he tries to rush ball handlers or keep up with them as opposed to just sagging off and using his length to contest (or better yet, hoping a teammate bails him out). That's not to say he's a good defender, but to suggest that he may be capable of playing average defense.

Here's what the gents overs at Detroit Bad Boys had to say about Monroe's defense:

At power forward, Monroe will no longer be that last option. He'll be paired with a large-bodied shot-blocking force who can compliment him should a cutting guard find an open lane to the basket. At 6'11", 250 pounds himself, he'll have a size advantage against nearly every power forward he's matched up against. When it comes to handling the biggest guy on the court, that role will fall to Detroit's biggest guy on the court-- Monroe will instead bring an advantage into nearly every match-up he faces...

How will Greg Monroe handle the shift to defending power forwards with extended range? If the numbers are any indication, he'll not only handle it well, he'll excel. According to Synergy Sports, Monroe is ranked 17th in the league (regardless of position) in defending spot-up perimeter shots including long twos and three-point attempts. Synergy has tracked 87 spot-up attempts against Monroe this season, and he's allowed 31.1% inside the three point line and 26.9% beyond. These marks are better than a "who's who" of defensively-acclaimed big men, making him a virtual stopper when the opposing team employs a stretch shooting big man.

All that being said, let's not kid ourselves; Monroe and Sullinger won't be the back bone of a championship team. At least one of them would need to be upgraded unless Kevin Durant suddenly develops a taste for Clam chowder. But the Celtics aren't in any position to worry about the Championship. Heck, they're not in any position to worry about the playoffs. What we need to worry about is improving our future, and Greg Monroe allows us to do just that.

Oh, and about this being my last Greg Monroe column... I didn't sign anything, so I'll see ya tomorrow.

*For all the talk about Houston, I can't imagine Daryl Morey watching these Team USA games, seeing James Harden dominate the ball playing alongside 2 other All-Star point guards, and thinking to himself that Rondo would be a good fit for the Rockets.

**For reference, that is the same exact amount Marcin Gortat, six years Monroe's senior, just got to resign with the Washington Wizards. Though I'd concede that Gortat is the better player today.