Malik Monk

Malik Monk Tested Positive For COVID-19

Hornets guard Malik Monk is among the NBA players who recently tested positive for COVID-19, head coach James Borrego said today (Twitter link via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer).

Monk isn’t currently experiencing coronavirus symptoms, but will miss at least several more days of practice, Bonnell notes.

The 11th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Monk hasn’t been the scorer and shooter the Hornets hoped for through his first three NBA seasons, averaging just 8.6 PPG with a .322 3PT% in 191 total games. His 2019/20 season came to an early end when he was suspended indefinitely for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. He was reinstated from that ban in June.

Although Monk hasn’t been a consistently productive player in Charlotte, he was playing well leading up to his suspension, scoring 17.0 PPG on .457/.350/.851 shooting in his last 13 games (27.9 MPG) of the ’19/20 campaign. He and the Hornets had been hoping to carry over that success to ’20/21, but his coronavirus diagnosis will set him back a little.

The NBA announced on Wednesday that 48 players tested positive for the coronavirus between November 24-30, so there are several other dozen players besides Monk waiting to be medically cleared.

Eastern Notes: Monk, Heat, Kanter, Dinwiddie

Hornets guard Malik Monk is seeking to regain the trust of his teammates after being suspended for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy in February, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.

Monk, who missed eight games due to the suspension and lost roughly $200K in salary, claims he’s in a better physical and emotional state now.

“I did it. I took my consequences for it,” Monk said of his suspension. “I think I’m making up for it right now. … I’m in a great place with my mind and my body. The responsibility now is even bigger for me to stay like this, instead of swerving off a little bit.”

Monk, the No. 11 pick of the 2017 draft, averaged 10.3 points and 2.1 assists in 21.3 minutes per game this season. He shot a career-high from the field (43.4%), though it was coupled with a career-low shooting mark from three-point territory (28.4%). Monk is entering the final year of his rookie contract, making him eligible for free agency in 2021.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • The Heat are utilizing veteran experience from Udonis Haslem and Andre Iguodala as they seek to reach their first NBA Finals since 2014, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes. Haslem and Iguodala are the only Heat players to ever play in the Finals — both players are three-time NBA champions (Haslem with Miami in 2006, 2012, and 2013; Iguodala with Golden State in 2015, 2017 and 2018).
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Boston explores how Enes Kanter saved the Celtics’ season with his energetic play in the first half of Game 5. Kanter recorded eight points, four rebounds, and two assists in just over nine minutes, providing a spark to keep Boston within reach entering halftime. “[Kanter] kind of kept us at bay,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “We were struggling, they hit some really tough shots. [Duncan] Robinson was going nuts, and Kanter’s points in the paint, I thought, really helped. And kind of helped steady us and give us a chance at halftime, only being down 7.”
  • Billy Reinhardt of NetsDaily examines whether the Nets’ offseason plans hinge on the fate of Spencer Dinwiddie, who could be traded in a package for a third star or kept as the lead ball-handler off the bench next season. Dinwiddie stepped up his play this season and has stated his willingness to surrender offensive opportunities for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, averaging a career-high 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game on the season.

Pacific Notes: Howard, Warriors, Kings, Kawhi

A year after Dwight Howard‘s NBA career appeared to be on life support, the veteran center is once again healthy and making an impact for a Lakers team that has become the strong favorite to win the 2020 championship, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com.

As Mannix details, Howard wore out his welcome at several of his other recent NBA stops, including in Charlotte. The Hornets believed the big man “didn’t impact winning,” according to one team official, and were worried about the influence he might have on the team’s young players, including Malik Monk.

In Los Angeles, Howard has accepted a complementary role that suits him and is part of a locker room whose veteran leaders are capable of quelling any chemistry issues that may arise, according to Mannix, who suggests that the eight-time All-Star should be able to extend his NBA career by a few years if he’s willing to play a similar role going forward.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

Southeast Notes: Ross, Heat, Monk, Hornets

Magic guard Terrence Ross has recovered from a stomach ailment and is now back with the team for the postseason, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Ross, who left the Orlando campus for medical care last week, described his experience in great detail, explaining what caused the issue in the first place.

“Sometimes your stomach creates too much stomach acid when you eat and it can get into your esophagus,” he said.

Ross finished eating in the team room at roughly 8:30 pm before ordering more food just 90 minutes later, according to Parry. He went to bed around 10:40 and began to experience sharp pains shortly after that.

“I started feeling like … almost like really, really, really intense like heartburn, almost. But then I realized it was more than that,” Ross said. “I didn’t even know what it was at the time but it was debilitating. It hurt. I was hunched over the floor for like an hour in the fetal position because of just whatever I wanted to do, everything that I was doing was just amplified and getting worse. So I called the team doctor and they took it from there.”

The Magic are set to open their first-round playoff series against the Bucks on Tuesday with Ross in the rotation. He has averaged 14.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 27.4 minutes per game off the bench this season, shooting 40% from the field and 35% from downtown.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division today:

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel explores whether the Heat are truly ready for the playoffs in his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag. Head coach Erik Spoelstra has opted to change his rotation in Orlando, starting forward Jae Crowder in place of Meyers Leonard in order to play smaller and quicker.
  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer examines whether Malik Monk could make a similar leap with the Hornets that Devonte’ Graham did. Charlotte drafted Monk with the No. 11 pick in 2017, with Monk averaging a career-high 10.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest this season.
  • Bonnell also examined a perk the Hornets got from the Orlando restart in a separate story for the Charlotte Observer, securing a 2020 second-round draft pick from the Celtics. Charlotte finished with the tenth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 23-42 this season.

Hornets Notes: Offseason, Washington, Monk, Hernangomez

The Hornets lobbied to be included in the NBA’s restart this summer and are “very disappointed” not to be part of it, president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said on Tuesday, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. However, Kupchak and head coach James Borrego accepted the league’s decision and will be satisfied with an opportunity to conduct team activities this summer.

As Bonnell details, Borrego thinks it would make sense for the bottom eight teams not invited to Orlando to be permitted to practice while the other 22 clubs are playing at Disney in August.

“The amount of time they’re spending with their teams and their players as a unit, we believe we should have the same. That would level the playing field a little bit more,” Borrego said. “For me, it’s more about the time that we have (to work with players and to scrimmage) — that it syncs with what (other teams are) getting in Orlando — and also the live play, which we don’t get a lot in the summer.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Also within that Bonnell article linked above: Borrego said he thought P.J. Washington should be on this season’s All-Rookie First Team, and Kupchak said that the Hornets are still in talent-acquisition mode rather than focusing on fit. “At some point, we’ll hopefully be that advanced, to sit down and talk about, ‘Hey, we’ve got five or six guys with great talent, now how do they fit together?'” Kupchak said, according to Bonnell. “I don’t think we’re there right now.”
  • In a separate article for The Observer, Bonnell digs into whether the Hornets have any realistic paths to acquiring a star player.
  • Now that Malik Monk has been reinstated following his drug suspension, he’s set to enter a big year in 2020/21. As Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer writes, the Hornets may have to move on from Monk next year if he doesn’t take a noticeable step forward after three up-and-down seasons.
  • Willy Hernangomez will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but he said today that he plans to remain in Charlotte for most or all of the summer, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Hernangomez added that he’d “love” to re-sign with the Hornets if possible.I love Charlotte, I love the group of guys we have,” he said, per Bonnell (Twitter links). “I want to be part of the young core that we have.”

Malik Monk Reinstated Following Drug Suspension

Hornets guard Malik Monk has been reinstated by the NBA following his suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak confirmed the news during his end-of-season press conference on Monday morning, adds Malika Andrews of ESPN (via Twitter).

The NBA announced Monk’s indefinite suspension on February 26. At the time, the league indicated that the ban would continue until Monk was determined to be “in full compliance” with the anti-drug program — presumably, that has now happened.

The full details surrounding Monk’s suspension weren’t announced or reported, but the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement states that certain drug violations – including for drugs of abuse – require a player to enter a treatment or care program. If the player violates the terms of that program, he will be suspended “until such time as the Medical Director determines that he has fully complied” with the program, per the CBA.

Monk missed eight games due to the suspension before the NBA put its season on hold in March. A suspension of less than 20 games was projected to cost the third-year guard just under $28K per game (1/145th of his $4,028,400 salary). That would work out to about $222K in lost income for Monk, and the abrupt end of Charlotte’s season figures to further cut into his earnings for 2019/20.

The 11th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Monk hasn’t been the scorer and shooter the Hornets hoped for through his first three NBA seasons, averaging just 8.6 PPG with a .322 3PT%. However, he had played well leading up to his suspension, scoring 17.0 PPG on .457/.350/.851 shooting in his last 13 games (27.9 MPG) of the 2019/20 season.

Monk is one of two dozen players who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension once the 2020/21 league year begins. However, the odds of Charlotte extending him this offseason are extremely slim, given his inconsistent play on the court and the suspension that kept him off it.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Kennard, Biyombo, Van Gundy, Tatum

Pistons swingman Luke Kennard has fully healed from the knee tendinitis that sidelined him for nearly three months before the season was suspended, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Kennard will have to wait until December to play again since the lottery-bound Pistons won’t be part of 22-team restart in Orlando. He’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension when this season ends.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Hornets’ season is over and that means three of their players are now free agents, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes. Centers Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez and guard Dwayne Bacon will be on the market in October when free agency begins. Guard Malik Monk remains suspended indefinitely for violation of the NBA anti-drug policy, Bonnell adds. Monk was suspended in late February.
  • Tom Thibodeau is considered the front-runner for the Knicks head coaching job and Jeff Van Gundy says Thibodeau is misunderstood, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. The longtime TV analyst and former Knicks coach made his comments during a Sirius XM Radio interview. “Unfortunately for him the perception of him on the sidelines as this gruff, nasty dude is not even close to who is he personally,” Van Gundy said. “Like, he is a great guy. He’s fun to be around. He’s enjoyable to be around, and he loves basketball.” 
  • NBC Sports’ A. Sherrod Blakely takes a close look on what Celtics fans should watch for when the season resumes, including whether Jayson Tatum can continue his breakout season.

First World Problems: Knicks’ Point Guard Situation

The Knicks‘ point guard situation appears to be an evergreen problem. New team president Leon Rose inherits a stable of underwhelming options just as Steve Mills and Phil Jackson did entering their respective regimes. Like his predecessors, Rose is expected to look for upgrades at the position this offseason.

What are some potential options? Prior to the Rose hire, the team had interest in trading for Terry Rozier, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv details. According to Begley, there was some support internally to send a package of Julius Randle, Dennis Smith Jr., and a future first-rounder to the Hornets in exchange for a return that included Rozier and Malik Monk.

While Rozier isn’t the All-Star point guard that New York’s fan base hopes for, he’s an upgrade on the current options. Elfrid Payton and Smith have had up-and-down results in the Big Apple. Frank Ntilikina, who has one more year left on his rookie deal, finally showed some progress but his long-term future with the club is uncertain.

Fred VanVleet will likely be the top point guard available on the free-agent market, though it’s hard to envision Toronto not doing all it can to retain the 2019 Finals hero. Chris Paul could be an option, but his contract gave teams pause last summer and that was before factoring in any sort of coronavirus-related basketball income woes that could suppress the league’s salary cap.

The franchise selecting a point guard atop the 2020 NBA draft might the best option for a brighter future at the position. The Knicks entered the NBA’s hiatus with the sixth-worst record in the league, which would give the team a 9% chance at the No. 1 overall selection, as we detailed earlier this month.

Southeast Notes: Monk, Hornets, Capela, Heat

Speaking to reporters before tonight’s game, Hornets coach James Borrego pledged his support for Malik Monk, who has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of the NBA’s anti-drug program, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Borrego said he hasn’t talked with Monk since the suspension was announced this morning.

“All of us face different things in life; it’s how you respond,” Borrego said. “It’s my belief, knowing Malik, that he’ll respond the right way. (The suspension) does put us in a bind. But in the end, this could be a very positive story. I look forward to talking to him.”

Bonnell points out that Monk has turned in some of the best performances of his career recently, averaging 17.8 PPG over the past 11 games while shooting 47% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. Tuesday marked the first start of his three-season career.

While Monk is unavailable, Bonnell expects more playing time for rookies Cody Martin and Caleb Martin and possibly an early return from the G League for Dwayne Bacon.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • It appears Borrego will give opportunities to all three of the Hornets‘ centers for the rest of the season, Bonnell tweets. Cody Zeller, who has appeared in 53 of the team’s 58 games, was active for tonight’s game but didn’t play. Bismack Biyombo got the start with Willy Hernangomez as his backup.
  • Clint Capela has shown progress with running and movement, but there’s still not a definite plan for his Hawks debut, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal Consitution. Capela, who was acquired from the Rockets at the trade deadline, is dealing with plantar fasciitis and a right calcaneus contusion. He will be re-evaluated on March 4. “He felt he came back too soon, and re-injured it, now he’s being cautious,” coach Lloyd Pierce said. “He thought it was a setback when he re-injured it as opposed to just coming back and taking his time and letting it completely heal.” 
  • The Heat still may be active on the buyout market, suggests Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. He mentions Solomon Hill, who has barely played since being acquired from the Grizzlies earlier this month, as a possible buyout candidate if Miami wants to open a roster spot. Winderman adds that the Heat can offer a portion of their mid-level or bi-annual exceptions, giving them an edge over teams that can only offer minimum contracts.

Southeast Notes: Haslem, Monk, Isaac, Wizards

The NBA’s oldest player, Vince Carter, is expected to retire at season’s end. However, the league’s second-oldest player isn’t sure whether he’ll call it a career too. Asked earlier this month if 2019/20 will be his final season, longtime Heat big man Udonis Haslem was noncommittal, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes.

“I can’t say,” Haslem said. “The guys want me around. Bam (Adebayo) tells me every day, ‘I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do when you retire.’ Jimmy (Butler) always has me around. We’ll see. My kids are getting older. We’ll see.”

According to Jackson, Haslem – who has logged 21 minutes all season – has acknowledged he’d like to play more, but says he has found “a joy” in a role as a veteran leader and mentor. Although the 39-year-old hasn’t been a regular rotation player since the 2014/15 season, the Heat value his leadership and believe it has outweighed the value of filling out the 15th roster spot with a prospect. We’ll have to wait to see if Haslem once again occupies that final roster spot in 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The Hornets issued a statement in response to Malik Monk‘s indefinite suspension today, which reads as follows (Twitter link): We are disappointed in Malik’s decision-making that resulted in his suspension. As an organization, we do not condone his behavior. However, we are committed to supporting Malik during this time.”
  • Magic forward Jonathan Isaac isn’t expected to return this season due to a knee injury, but he’s back with the team and participating in some light shooting drills this week, per John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com. “I’m not completely sure,” Isaac said when asked if he could play again this season. “I just want to continue to be wise, listen to the coaching staff and what management is thinking and then move accordingly.”
  • Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said on Sunday after losses to Cleveland and Chicago that his team was “playing soft,” writes Eric Woodyard of ESPN. The club lost again on Monday, but was far more competitive in that game, pushing Milwaukee to overtime.
  • Michael Lee of The Athletic implores frustrated Wizards guard Bradley Beal to look on the bright side of a losing season that Lee argues should be considered at least a “partial success,” given preseason expectations.