Malik Monk’s ascension this season from castaway in Charlotte to valuable role player in Los Angeles has been not only one of the only positives of the season for the Lakers, it’s one of the only good stories they’ve had, period. Monk came into the season as a veteran’s minimum signing looking to earn a more permanent landing spot after a tumultuous ending with the Hornets, but he’s going to leave the season having earned a hefty pay raise in free agency this summer.
This season, Monk is averaging a career-high 13.4 points per game while shooting 47.3% from the field, 39.1% from the 3-point line and doing it all in a career-high 28 minutes per game. Prior to this season, Monk had started just a single game before starting 33 times for the Lakers.
As a result, Monk (rightfully) will receive a big payday this offseason. After gambling on himself last year, Monk will reap the rewards this summer. Those rewards, though, may not be paid out by the Lakers. As Jake Fischer noted in his recent Bleacher Report piece, the Lakers are going to have quite the challenge in retaining Monk.
The Lakers will also have to consider a future without guard Malik Monk, who ranks third on the team in both total minutes played and points scored this season. Los Angeles landed Monk, the 11th pick in the 2017 NBA draft, on a minimum-salary contract after the Kentucky product spent four seasons in Charlotte.
Expectations among league personnel polled by B/R for Monk’s next salary are quite varied but have ranged from an average annual value between $5 million and $10 million, far above the minimum number that the Lakers were able to sign him for this season.
Earlier this season, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report laid out a scenario in which the Lakers could up their bid to keep Monk, but it would come at the cost of their taxpayer mid-level exception. That would allow the Lakers to offer Monk a contract at roughly $6.2 million. Even if only a short-term deal, the Lakers would own Monk’s Early Bird rights in the summer of 2023 would allow them the ability to offer a contract at roughly $11 million annually.
While this wouldn’t offer long-term security for either Monk or the Lakers, it would likely allow the Lakers to give a competitive offer. However, in the upcoming offseason, it would come at the risk of using one of the few mechanisms the team would have of signing a player on a non-veteran’s minimum deal. At the same time, it would guarantee the Lakers a player that they know can contribute alongside their stars.
Considering how much of a fan favorite Monk has become, though, fans would certainly respond well to having him another season in Los Angeles, and the organization wants him back. And considering the comments from Monk’s brother and agent, it would seem to be preferred for them to remain in purple and gold next season, too.
But for Monk to have a second season or more with the Lakers, it’s going to take quite a bit of maneuvering from the Lakers this offseason, and potentially some more sacrifice — at least in the short term — on Monk’s part.
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