NBA Rumor: Malik Monk Free Agency

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NBA executives expect Malik Monk to earn between $6-$10 million annually on next deal

Michael Scotto: Monk was a bright spot for the Lakers this season and gave the team great value while playing on a minimum contract and set himself up for a pay raise this summer. I spoke to four NBA executives who projected Malik Monk to earn an average annual salary somewhere between the taxpayer and non-taxpayer mid-level exception as of now. That would project to be somewhere between roughly the $6-10 million annual range. One executive specifically said, “Malik had a good year. I was surprised he was a minimum guy last year. I thought he should’ve been worth more than that. If you put Monk on a good team, his scoring and shooting is really important.”

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Assuming they continue to operate over the luxury tax, the Lakers will have the $6.4 million taxpayer mid-level exception as their largest means to upgrade the roster. They need to target the best player available with it, but there’s a possibility that they prioritize utilizing the exception to re-sign Malik Monk. Without it, the most they can offer Monk is a starting salary of $2.5 million with his Non Bird rights. It’s very possible they get outbid for Monk by a team offering him the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception projected at four years, $44.5 million.

Rob Pelinka says Malik Monk is 'hopefully a part of our future'

As the Lakers’ roster is currently constructed, L.A. will be able to re-sign Monk only by either offering him 120% of the veteran minimum (roughly $2 million) — which he has outplayed — or using the taxpayer’s midlevel exception, estimated to be worth around $6.3 million, according to ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks. “The partnership has been a win from both sides,” Pelinka says. “Both for the Lakers, in terms of the productivity he’s had for us and then I think on his side, just showing people what he can do in big moments in big games. … He’s a guy that we would see as hopefully a part of our future.”

So why weren’t other teams interested? Monk’s reputation as a high-volume, low-efficiency shooter with questionable maturity followed him into 2021 free agency. “It kind of hit me hard when nobody really wanted me besides the Lakers, man,” he said. “So I just put fuel in my tank and just held it in until the time until I get time to play, man, and prove I can play for a long period of time. That’s what I’m doing right now.”

Monk has taken a leap this year, one that’s partly the result of a maturation process he’s been going through since he came into the league in 2017. He’s finally having the kind of shooting season many anticipated when he was selected by Charlotte with the no. 11 pick, hitting a career-high 42.4 percent of his 3s on 5.2 attempts per game. And as teammates like Devonte’ Graham and LaMelo Ball have missed time with injuries, Monk has stepped into a formidable role and improved his résumé before he enters restricted free agency this summer.

Both Borrego and Monk said that the role the coach has fashioned for the guard—giving him a guaranteed 20 to 25 minutes a night off the bench as a scorer—has freed Monk up to be more confident, especially in finding his shot. That shot was Monk’s strength coming out of college, and though it didn’t fall often early in his career, it’s dropping now. And if he can maintain a steady pace through the rest of this season and beyond, it will become his moneymaker. “To stand out in this league, he needs that trust from a coach, from an organization saying, ‘We believe in you,’” Borrego said. “And I believe that he is a 40 percent shooter. He’s a guy that can get to the rim at an elite level, he’s an elite finisher. He has the ability to make plays for others and he’s got a bright future.”
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August 14, 2022 | 5:21 pm EDT Update