Not many things went right for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. The trade for Russell Westbrook was a disaster and the team didn’t come close to making the playoffs. Out of the few things that did work, Malik Monk was the best.
The young guard came over from the Charlotte Hornets on a minimum deal and averaged 13.8 points a game. Monk was a breath of fresh air for a team that didn’t have much going for it. The problem for the Lakers is that he was only on a one-year deal and is set to be a free agent. Luckily, Monk isn’t like most players who want to get paid after a breakout year. Just ahead of free agency, the guard admitted that money isn’t too important to him.
“Money is always a part, man, but I don’t think it’s the biggest priority in my free agency this year,” Monk told Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “It’s me feeling like I’m having a home and I can go out there and do the same things I did this year.”
He then talked about the Lakers and said he’d be willing to take less just to stay in Los Angeles.
“They might not be able to pay me as much as I want,” he said. “But I could be here and be way more comfortable as a Laker than going to any other team (that would pay) me $5 million more. So it’s just me trying to figure out what team would really want me.”
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Monk’s Brother Reiterates Guard’s Feelings
This isn’t the first time that Monk has suggested he wants to stay with the Lakers. He said as much after the season ended. His brother Marcus Monk, who is also his agent, has previously said that the guard could be willing to take a discount to stay with the Lakers. He reiterated that Monk really doesn’t want to be anywhere else.
“He loved it here,” Marcus said. “He wants to be a Laker. But you can’t have conversations with the Lakers at this point in time because he’s unrestricted. So once those conversations start happening, hopefully, they see it the same. … We’re very loyal people. We’re very thankful for the opportunity that this organization gave him. And we don’t take those things lightly.”
The Kyrie Irving Dilemma
The Lakers have a taxpayer mid-level exception that will be worth around $6.3 million annually. Monk could likely get more but that would still be a good payday for him if Los Angeles is willing to give it to him. However, there’s a situation brewing that complicates the matter.
Kyrie Irving isn’t happy with the Brooklyn Nets and is eyeing the Lakers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He wants to be in Los Angeles so bad that he could be willing to take the taxpayer mid-level exception under the notion that the Lakers would give him a much bigger contract once Russell Westbrook is off the books. It seems unfathomable that he’d take that big of a discount but anything is possible with Irving. Obviously, giving Irving the taxpayer mid-level exception would kill any hopes of bringing back Monk but it’s something the Lakers would have to do if it’s truly an option.
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