Pelinka: Lakers Hope Monk Is “Part Of Our Future”

A number of the Lakers‘ 2021 offseason acquisitions haven’t worked out as well as the team had hoped, but one bright spot has been Malik Monk. The fifth-year guard has significantly outplayed his minimum-salary contract, averaging a career-high 12.9 PPG on .464/.394/.767 shooting in 63 games (27.6 MPG).

Los Angeles’ ability to offer Monk a raise when he returns to free agency this summer will be limited, but VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka would like to retain the former lottery pick if possible, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays.

“The partnership has been a win from both sides,” Pelinka said. “Both for the Lakers, in terms of the productivity he’s had for us and then I think on his side, just showing people what he can do in big moments in big games. … He’s a guy that we would see as hopefully a part of our future.”

According to McMenamin, when Monk reached unrestricted free agency last year, he only received interest from three teams: the Lakers, Knicks, and Mavericks. And by the sounds of it, none of those teams were willing to offer more than the league minimum.

“Did I think Malik could make a few more dollars than a minimum? Yes, I did,” agent Jeff Schwartz said. “Unfortunately, the offers just didn’t come. So then it was about finding the right place. … I was disappointed there was no bigger offers out there, but I also know sometimes you got to just go out and show it for a year.”

Asked to make a quick decision during free agency so that the Lakers could move onto other targets if he turned them down, Monk accepted L.A.’s offer and hasn’t regretted it, despite the team’s struggles this season. After four challenging seasons in Charlotte, Monk is playing more – and better – than ever with the Lakers and appreciates that the organization was willing to take a shot on him.

“They put a lot of trust in me,” Monk says. “And I just feel comfortable, man, to go out and perform for them.”

Because the Lakers will only hold Monk’s Non-Bird rights and won’t have any cap room this offseason, the highest starting salary they’ll be able to offer will likely be $6.34MM, the projected amount of the taxpayer mid-level exception. Without dipping into their MLE, the Lakers would only be able to give Monk a 20% raise above the minimum.

It’s possible a more lucrative offer will await Monk elsewhere, but the 24-year-old tells McMenamin he has had a “beautiful experience” with the Lakers, while Marcus Monk – Malik’s older brother and manager – suggests a return to L.A. is possible.

“We’re very loyal people,” Marcus said. “The Lakers were calling him nonstop once free agency opened. So we don’t forget about that. On the other side, it is a business. … But I would love to see him in a Laker uniform.”

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