After a spending spree on veteran players to start free agency, the Lakers finally added youth to the roster on Tuesday afternoon. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers agreed to a deal with guard Malik Monk.
Free agent G Malik Monk has agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 3, 2021
And check that, appears all of the Lakers FA additions have been for the minimum.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) August 3, 2021
Taxpayer MLE of $5.9M sill available for LA to add some more talent. https://t.co/PgvgBa0iGw
Lakers now up to 11 players under contract and 2 on a Two Way— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) August 3, 2021
- Early - Horton-Tucker
- rights on Schroder
- $5.9M tax ML
- Veteran minimum
Last season in Charlotte, Monk finally made good on the potential that made him a lottery pick. The former Kentucky guard averaged 11.7 points off the bench while shooting 40.1% from the 3-point line and 43.4% from the field.
Monk was a key part of a Hornets backcourt rotation that helped power the team to as high as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference before injuries took a toll on the team, Monk included. From late January when Monk entered the rotation until late March when he suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for a month, Monk averaged 14.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2 assists while shooting 46.2% from the field and 42.4% from the 3-point line.
Monk returned from his sprained ankle but never found a rhythm again over the final weeks of the season as he and the Hornets sputtered to the finish line before bowing out in the play-in game against the Pacers.
Despite his breakout campaign, the Hornets did not extend a qualifying offer to Monk for a variety of reasons. For one, Monk was not guaranteed a starting spot behind both LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier even prior to Charlotte spending the No. 11 pick on James Bouknight out of Connecticut.
Secondly, and perhaps more impactfully, Monk and head coach James Borrego did not often see eye to eye. A bout with COVID-19 during training camp and disagreement on his role with Borrego kept Monk out of the rotation for a lengthy time to start the season. Both Monk and Borrego spoke publicly during the season about their relationship and admitted there were challenges along the way.
Both things paired together led to the Hornets opting not to extend a qualifying offer to Monk enter this offseason, allowing him to hit unrestricted free agency and move on from his time in Charlotte.
With the Lakers, Monk can provide shooting on the wing with a little bit of playmaking mixed in. The vast majority of his minutes last season came at the shooting guard, though he does have the ability to create off the dribble.
Last season, he ranked in the 90th percentile in catch-and-shoot jumpers and in the 62nd percentile on shots off the dribble. In limited isolation possessions, he ranked in the 86th percentile as well.
For the Lakers, he will provide the team more 3-point shooting — assuming last year was not an aberration — and a spark plug off the bench as a scorer. Monk had eight 20-point games and a pair of 30-point games, including capping off a dramatic comeback against Sacramento, all coming off the bench last season.
Considering his performance last season and the position the Lakers are in financially, this is a home run of a deal and is a terrific low-risk, high-reward signing.