Heading into free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers have limited flexibility with what they can pull off. The team will have to rely on signing players to minimum contracts to fill out the roster. Luckily, they have a mid-level exception they can use to sign a player. The mid-level exception won’t hurt the salary cap or put the team in the luxury tax.
The Lakers don’t have many of their own free agent who they’d like to bring back outside of one. Former Charlotte Hornets first-round pick Malik Monk signed with Los Angeles last offseason and was a pleasant surprise. He was electrifying on offense as he averaged 13.8 points a game. There’s no way he’ll get a minimum contract this offseason and the Lakers will face competition to sign him. Fortunately, the team might be able to keep him. Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report is predicting that Monk will end up re-signing with the Lakers on a mid-level exception deal:
The Lakers seem likely to throw their biggest asset (the MLE) at Malik Monk and hope that’s enough after his breakout campaign.
The 24-year-old should command serious interest as a former lottery pick who just converted 47.3 percent of his field goals and 39.1 percent of his threes, and it’s possible L.A. won’t make the highest offer he receives.
Still, as long as the Lakers’ offer is close to the top dollar he commands, he seems a relatively safe bet to stick around. He sounds interested in staying, and our crystal ball sees him taking a short-term deal that allows him to re-enter the market in a year or two to sign a longer, richer deal with the Lakers.
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Keeping Monk Would Be Big
Not many players for the Lakers were impressive last season. Monk was one of the few who made a difference. He’s not much of a defender but he’s very strong on offense and hit 39.1% of his 3-point shots last season.
The Lakers still need a lot of help on defense but Monk gives the team a big offensive presence off the bench. He’s also only 24 and should continue to get better. Keeping him is among the most important things for Los Angeles this offseason.
Monk Wants to Be a Laker
A big thing working in the Lakers’ favor is that Monk doesn’t want to leave Los Angeles. He enjoyed his time with the team and has formed a strong friendship with Austin Reaves. According to Monk’s brother and agent Marcus Monk, the young guard wants to stick around for a long time.
“He’s very appreciative of what the Lakers have done and what they are doing,” Monk told The Athletic. “And he works for the Los Angeles Lakers. And for him to be thinking anything beyond that and trying to help this team win, it wouldn’t be fair to them for believing in him. So I don’t even have those conversations with him. … Right now, he’s a Laker. And hopefully, he’ll be a Laker forever.”