Out of all the Los Angeles Lakers‘ free agents, Malik Monk was clearly the one the team wanted back most. The guard was somehow landed on a veteran’s minimum contract last season but that wasn’t going to happen again after playing surprisingly well last season. He averaged a career-high 13.8 points a game and hit 39.1% of his threes.
With limited flexibility, the Lakers wouldn’t have been able to offer Monk more than around $6 million a season. He decided to take a two-year, $19 million deal from the Sacramento Kings in free agency. It was wise for the guard to take advantage of being a free agent after a strong year. He hasn’t seen a big payday until now.
Last year, Monk said that he bet on himself by taking a veteran’s minimum contract with the Lakers. A year later, Monk didn’t have much to say outside of retweeting a message he sent last offseason.
Monk placed a good bet as he’s set to see a significant pay raise and role increase.
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Did Monk Make the Right Move?
Monk wasn’t shy about loving his time in Los Angeles. He even suggest he’d take a discount to stay. The problem was that the discount he would’ve had to take was too significant. Also, it remains to be seen if the Lakers even offered him the mid-level exception contract. Time will tell if Monk made the right move for his long-term future.
There’s no doubt he’ll have a chance to carve out a much bigger role and increase his brand in Sacramento. However, the Kings are one of the most poorly run franchises in the NBA and haven’t made the playoffs in 16 seasons. For all the Lakers’ faults, they are still the biggest brand in the league, and being a good role player in Los Angeles can be worth a lot more than being a star on the Kings. For the short-term, it was obviously the right deal, but if he would’ve taken the mid-level exception from the Lakers for one more season and balled out again, he might have been looking at a much bigger payday next year.
Will Lakers Miss Monk?
While Monk was one of the Lakers’ best players last season, he didn’t contribute much to winning. The team had plenty of players who could score but not a lot of defenders. As good of a scorer as Monk proved to be, he’s not much of a presence on defense. The Lakers had a very bad defense last year and Monk was part of that.
Early in free agency, the team brought in a number of young players with defensive upside like Troy Brown Jr. and Lonnie Walker. However, the team hasn’t found great shooters. Keeping Monk while adding the young defenders would’ve been great for the Lakers. With the guard off to Sacramento, the team will need to figure out how to find some outside shooters.