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Report: Malik Monk leaves Lakers for Kings in NBA free agency

Malik Monk has parlayed his career-year with the Lakers into a new contract from the Kings in NBA free agency.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The writing has been on the wall that this might be coming for a few weeks, but now it’s official: Malik Monk is leaving the Lakers for the Kings in NBA free agency, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The $19 million likely equates to roughly the mid-level exception, though that has not been specifically reported. The anticipated range for Monk was between $8 million and $12 million.

Monk had his best NBA season in his first year in Los Angeles, averaging career-highs of 13.8 points and 2.9 assists on 47.3% shooting over the course of the 2021-22 campaign.

The third-year guard said multiple times over the course of the last few months that he would take less than market value to stay with the Lakers for another season, but the team did not seem prepared to give him even their taxpayer mid-level exception while they prioritized depth at other positions in free agency.

In our season review series, our own Alex Regla wrote that while there would be value in retaining one of the sole bright spots from last season for the purposes of continuity, the team just plainly had bigger positional needs:

While Monk outperformed all expectations heading into the year, and was also one of the few representatives of youth on the club, the team still does have a glaring hole at the wing spot that may be a more urgent need. And within the current basketball landscape where the position is becoming more scarce and coveted, there’s a sound argument for the team to make getting a wing a bigger priority than retaining Monk.

With Monk’s departure, the Lakers retain the use of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but lose quite a bit of offensive production. Monk scored the third-most points for the Lakers last season while playing the second-most games and the second-most minutes. All of that, now, will need to be replaced this summer once again.

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