The Phoenix Suns prefer to explore the trade market on the expiring contract of Greg Monroe before proceeding on contract-buyout talks, league sources told ESPN.
The Suns acquired the veteran big man as part of a trade package for guard Eric Bledsoe with the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday and decidedly value Monroe's $17.8 million contract as a trade asset on the market. The Bucks included a protected 2018 first-round pick and a protected second-round pick in the deal.
Monroe, 27, doesn't fit into the Suns' long-term rebuilding plans, and he likely would prefer to join a contending team as a free agent to increase his value on his way into the summer marketplace. Talks could eventually come on a contract buyout, and it's unlikely that he would remain in Phoenix beyond the February trading deadline -- leaving either by buyout or trade.
The possibility of a contract buyout could give the Suns freedom to be creative with an open roster spot. Before Dec. 6, the Suns need a spot to convert the two-way contract of productive rookie guard Mike James into a regular roster spot. Also, an open roster spot would give the Suns the chance to become involved in trade talks with Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor, a 21-year-old former No. 3 overall pick with whom the Suns have had interest, league sources said.
Monroe averaged a career-low 6.8 points and five rebounds in limited minutes for the Bucks this season. For his career, which has included a stop in Detroit, he has averaged 14.8 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Monroe's ability to play power forward and center gives him some versatility on the offensive end that is attractive to teams.