Malik Monk

Pacific Notes: Leonard, LeBron, Monk, Wiseman

The Clippers are just a game above .500, but they’re willing to give Kawhi Leonard all the time he needs to start playing again, writes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. Leonard participated in a five-on-five workout Friday for the first time since experiencing right knee soreness on October 23. Although that’s an encouraging sign, his teammates don’t want to rush him back into the lineup.

“I’m excited to get him back whenever he’s ready,” Paul George said. “Nobody here wants to put added pressure on his return. His return is his return. Like I’ve been saying, we got a job to do and that’s to continue to play ball, win games, compete. When he’s ready, he’s ready, but that’s his timetable, not ours.”

Leonard, who missed all of 2021/22 while recovering from a torn ACL, has only been able to play in two games this season. Kevin Durant, whose Nets won in L.A. this afternoon, said Leonard understands what he needs to do to get healthy.

“He knows how to deal with his body,” Durant said. “He knows his body better than anybody. The league is better though, when Kawhi Leonard is playing.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • After missing Friday’s game with a left adductor strain, Lakers star LeBron James has been upgraded slightly for Sunday but still remains doubtful, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. With James sidelined, coach Darvin Ham said “self-inflicted mistakes” cost L.A. in a loss to the Kings, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The Lakers committed numerous turnovers and defensive mistakes in the closing minutes of both halves. “We’ve just got to get some wins, especially in the West,” Anthony Davis said. “Every team is good. Got a lot of basketball left but we dug ourselves a hole. So we’ve got to put some wins together, got to start winning — ASAP. Try to stay positive, obviously. The energy around our locker room feels like 2-10, as it should. But we’ve got to start putting wins together immediately.”
  • Malik Monk, who left the Lakers for the Kings in free agency, has been a good fit in Sacramento, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. L.A. wasn’t able to offer Monk more than the taxpayer mid-level exception, so he signed with the Kings for $9.5MM. “People probably may not look at him like this because he’s so young, and he’s bounced around as a young guy, but he knows how to lead,” coach Mike Brown said. “He uplifts the group. He’s fun-loving. He’s always messing with somebody, and guys really, really enjoy that, and you need that when you’re together as much as we are.”
  • The Warriors should consider trading third-year center James Wiseman, who doesn’t fit the team’s style of play and isn’t ready to be part of a championship contender, argues Nekias Duncan of Basketball News.

Kings Notes: Starting Lineup, Barnes, Sabonis

While De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Harrison Barnes are locked in as starters, two spots in the Kings‘ starting lineup remain up for grabs, head coach Mike Brown said this weekend.

“Obviously, Fox is going to start for us. Domas is going to start for us. HB is going to start for us,” Brown said, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “But we’re kind of up in the air a little bit with the two and the four spot, and there are some guys that we feel have a real good chance to start for us in those spots, but we’re going to keep mixing those two spots around to see what we can get.”

Kevin Huerter started as shooting guard during the Kings’ presseason opener vs. the Lakers on Monday, while KZ Okpala got the nod at power forward. However, neither player had a big night, while Malik Monk and Keegan Murray – two other contenders for those starting spots – combined for 24 points, 12 rebounds, and three steals.

Brown won’t make any decisions based on one night, but with the start of the regular season just two weeks away, every preseason game will be an important one as the Kings consider their options.

Here are a few more notes out of Sacramento:

  • Barnes, who is entering the final season of a four-year deal, isn’t oblivious to the fact that his name has popped up frequently in trade rumors over the last year or two, but he’s preparing to spend his full contract year in Sacramento, Anderson writes for The Sacramento Bee. “You know how the NBA is,” Barnes said. “I check Woj. I check Shams. They’ve still got me here, so as far as I’m concerned, this is where I’m supposed to be and I’m going to give it my best effort.”
  • Speaking to Mark Medina of NBA.com, Sabonis discussed the Kings’ playoff chances, his chemistry with Fox, and how having the defensive-minded Brown on the sidelines will impact the team. “He’s a defensive coach, and he’s definitely trying to make life easy for us in terms of the terminology,” Sabonis said of Brown. “The defensive stuff we’re doing is going to help us out. It’ll depend on us. He’s giving us all the answers and the system of how we want to play as a team. Defense is about effort and competing. If we compete every game, it’s going to be tough.”
  • Making the play-in tournament is a “completely reasonable goal” for the Kings, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who previews Sacramento’s season and projects the team to finish 10th in the Western Conference with a 37-45 record.

California Notes: Kings, Robinson, Warriors, Lakers

While Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox is clearly locked in as the team’s starter at that position, the identity of his backcourt cohort is a bit up in the air. James Ham of The Kings Beat takes stock of the team’s options at shooting guard.

Ham identifies 6’7″ sharpshooter Kevin Huerter, acquired in a trade with the Hawks over the summer, as the option that makes the most sense fit-wise, but notes that free agent signing Malik Monk could get significant consideration as well. Inconsistent wing Terence Davis should get some run in the rotation, while Ham also examines the upside of young swingmen Sam Merrill and Keon Ellis.

There’s more out of California:

  • Shooting guard Jerome Robinson faces an uphill battle when it comes to making the Warriors‘ regular season roster. C.J. Holmes of the San Francisco Chronicle details how the 25-year-old will need to prove his mettle in training camp. In his 2021/22 campaign with Golden State’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, the former lottery pick recorded averages of 20.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 3.8 APG in 22 games. Holmes writes that the team may be prioritizing a point guard or more size with the final one or two spots on its standard 15-man roster.
  • The Warriors seem fully capable of mounting a solid title defense this season, HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan opines in a fresh season preview. Gozlan posits that Golden State’s excellent two-way play and deep roster of veterans, mixed with some intriguing youth, should make the team a formidable threat in the Western Conference.,
  • On a recent episode of his podcast The Hoop Collective, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports that the Lakers were never involved in three-team trade talks between the Jazz and Knicks in a potential trade to send Donovan Mitchell to New York. The three-time All-Star was eventually dealt to the Cavaliers instead in a two-team deal. Windhorst adds that the Lakers appear to think that there is no deal for $47MM+ point guard Russell Westbrook, even with their tantalizing 2027 and 2029 first-round picks included, that will significantly upgrade their roster.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Collison, Monk, Leonard, Wall

The Lakers‘ five additions in free agency were targeted for speed, defense and shooting, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. New head coach Darvin Ham is determined to bring a fresh approach to a team that finished in the bottom third of the league in both offensive and defensive rating last season. All five players who were introduced at today’s press conference talked about how they will blend into that system.

“I think I can fit on any team,” said former Warrior Juan Toscano-Anderson. “I think I can guard one through five. I’ll do whatever it takes to win, and when I say whatever, I mean it. I’ll dive over scorer’s tables. I’ll rebound. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Along with a renewed emphasis on defense, L.A. hopes its free agency moves will provide increased spacing for its star players. Ex-Spur Lonnie Walker is coming off a season where he connected at just 31.4% from three-point range, but he vows to be better.

“Last year, you can look at the percentages, but I kid you not: Leave me open, we’re going to see what’s happening,” Walker said. “I’m honing into what I got to get better on, and I’m not just strengthening my weakness but I’m strengthening my strengths as well. So, I’m ready to show everyone what I’m about.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Free agent point guard Darren Collison worked out for the Lakers again today, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Collison, who was at a mini-camp with the team last month, is interested in returning to the NBA at age 34.
  • Malik Monk‘s long friendship with De’Aaron Fox played an important role in his decision to sign with the Kings, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Monk and Fox have been friends since high school and they were backcourt partners at Kentucky. “They speak all the time,” a source told Anderson. “They’re still in their college group chat, so they speak every day. Those guys are real brothers, so I’m excited for them both.”
  • Clippers star Kawhi Leonard hasn’t been cleared to play 5-on-5, but he continues to make progress in his return from an ACL injury, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk said on “NBA Today” (video link). Newly signed John Wall will compete with Reggie Jackson for the starting point guard spot, Youngmisuk adds.

Contract Details: Monk, Bucks, Edwards, Dort, Jones

Malik Monk‘s two-year deal with the Kings is worth approximately $19.42MM in total, with a first-year salary of $9.47MM, Hoops Rumors has learned. While Sacramento used most of the mid-level exception to bring Monk aboard, the team still has $1,017,781 left on the MLE, which is the exact value of the rookie minimum salary.

The Kings didn’t have a second-round pick in this year’s draft, so that leftover mid-level money won’t go to a 2022 draftee. But the club may have it earmarked for a player like Sasha Vezenkov, a 2017 second-rounder whose draft rights were acquired from Cleveland last month. Using that leftover mid-level money, Sacramento could offer Vezenkov – or another player – a minimum-salary deal that exceeds two years.

Here are a few more details on recently-signed contracts from around the NBA:

  • As expected, Joe Ingles got the full taxpayer mid-level exception ($6.48MM) from the Bucks, while Bobby Portis‘s four-year deal is worth the most he could receive using his Early Bird rights ($48.58MM), Hoops Rumors has learned. Portis’ contract includes a 15% trade kicker and a fourth-year player option.
  • Wesley Matthews‘ new deal with the Bucks is a one-year, minimum-salary contract, while the team used Jevon Carter‘s Non-Bird rights to give him a first-year salary ($2.1MM) worth a little more than his minimum ($1.97MM). Carter’s second-year player option is for the veteran’s minimum.
  • Kessler Edwards‘ two-year deal with the Nets, which features a second-year team option, is – as expected – worth the minimum.
  • Luguentz Dort‘s five-year contract with the Thunder includes a team option in year five and has a total base value of $82.5MM. It can be worth up to $87.5MM if Dort earns $5MM in total unlikely bonuses ($1MM annually), tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
  • Tyus Jones‘ two-year deal with the Grizzlies begins at $15MM and declines to $14MM in 2023/24, per Marks (Twitter link). The deal includes an additional $1MM in unlikely incentives related to the team’s performance, Marks adds.

Western Notes: Clippers Roster, DiVincenzo, Nuggets, Monk

After landing John Wall, the Clippers have one opening on their 15-man roster. There’s no rush to fill it, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. While they could use a backup center, the team is more interested in staying flexible rather than quickly adding a player. The team is already looking at a $143MM tax bill for next season and another signing would add to that.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Donte DiVincenzo was believed to have offers for the full taxpayer mid-level exception of $6.479MM. However, he chose the Warriors’ offer of two years and $9.3MM with a player option. The option was key to his decision to take a $4.5MM salary next season, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. He has a chance to join a championship team and pump up his value. If he does that, he can re-enter the free-agency market. If he doesn’t, he’s protected with a second-year player option worth $4.8MM.
  • Nuggets GM Calvin Booth is carrying out his stated agenda of improving the team’s defense, Mike Singer of the Denver Post notes. By trading for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, agreeing to sign free agent Bruce Brown, re-signing Davon Reed and drafting Christian Braun and Peyton Watson, Booth targeted players who could switch on defense, disrupt passing lanes, play bigger than their height and stay on the floor in the postseason.
  • Malik Monk has been friends with De’Aaron Fox since high school. That played a role in his decision to ditch the Lakers and agree to a two-year, $19MM contract with the Kings, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports.

Malik Monk Signs Two-Year Contract With Kings

JULY 6, 1:37pm: Monk’s new deal with the Kings is now official, according to a press release from the team.

“Malik Monk is an elite shooter, fierce competitor and tremendous athlete,” GM Monte McNair said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have him join us in Sacramento.”


JUNE 30, 5:37pm: Monk will sign a two-year, $19MM contract with the Kings, reports Damian Barling of ESPN 1320 (Twitter link).


JUNE 30, 4:07pm: “There is a lot of smoke” about Malik Monk signing with the Kings once free agency opens at 5:00pm CT, multiple sources tell James Ham of ESPN 1320 and The Kings Beat (Twitter link).

Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee hears similarly, reporting (via Twitter) that he’s getting “strong indications” from sources that Monk could be reuniting with former Kentucky teammate De’Aaron Fox. Monk and Fox were both lottery picks in 2017.

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report was the first to link Monk to the Kings on a Spotify Live appearance with Marc Stein late Wednesday night.

Monk struggled to find a team last summer after the Hornets didn’t tender him a qualifying offer, but became one of the best values in the league on a one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Lakers. Monk had a career-year last season, averaging 13.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 2.9 APG on .473/.391/.795 shooting in 76 games (37 starts, 28.1 MPG).

L.A. only holds Non-Bird rights on Monk and will be limited to a contract that starts at the taxpayer mid-level exception, which is projected to be $6.5MM next season.

The Kings could offer Monk the mid-level exception, projected to be worth about $10.5MM next season, for as many as four years. There’s also a possibility that Sacramento could open up some cap space to sign him outright, depending on if the team makes some trades and releases some of their cap holds.

Monk, 24, is reportedly looking for a role where he can receive significant minutes and “be himself,” as he recently told Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Otto Porter, Gary Harris, T.J. Warren Among Lakers’ Potential FA Targets

The Lakers‘ options on the free agent market this week will likely be limited, since the team will only be able to offer the $6.5MM taxpayer mid-level exception or a minimum-salary contract to potential targets. However, as Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes, the team will still aim high, hoping to sell players on the opportunity to start and the ability to increase their stock with a strong year in Los Angeles, like Malik Monk did in 2021/22.

According to Buha, youth, length, athleticism, and shooting are among the traits the Lakers will be prioritizing. Two-way wings who could come in and potentially start alongside Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook will be a priority, sources tell The Athletic.

Here are some details on the types of players the Lakers will be eyeing in free agency:

Free Agency Rumors: Monk, Oladipo, McGee, Mills, Hartenstein

On a Spotify Live appearance with Marc Stein, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said he has heard there’s mutual interest between the Kings and Malik Monk in free agency (hat tip to Talkin’ NBA). Monk played college ball at Kentucky with De’Aaron Fox, so there’s obviously a connection between the two athletic guards.

Monk had a career-year in his first season with the Lakers last season, averaging 13.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 2.9 APG on .473/.391/.795 shooting in 76 games (37 starts, 28.1 MPG). He’s reportedly looking for a role where he can receive significant minutes and “be himself,” as he told Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

The Kings could offer Monk the mid-level exception, projected to be worth about $10.5MM next season, which is significantly more than the Lakers can offer (taxpayer MLE — $6.5MM).

Here are more rumors ahead of free agency, which kicks off in less than 17 hours:

  • Fischer also reports (hat tip to Talkin’ NBA) that in addition to Denver, Detroit and Washington, the Bulls are in the mix for Victor Oladipo. Fischer previously wrote that Oladipo was unlikely to remain with Miami.
  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Phoenix hears (via Twitter) that Suns backup center JaVale McGee is looking for a multiyear deal, with the Bucks, Mavericks and Nets interested in his services. Gambadoro adds that he’s unsure if Phoenix would go for a two-year deal to re-sign McGee, who was highly productive (9.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 1.1 BPG) in a reserve role with the Suns last season (74 games, 15.8 MPG).
  • Patty Mills is expected to draw “significant interest” on the free agent market after declining his player option, but he hasn’t ruled out a return to the Nets, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Brian Lewis of The New York Post hears Mills and his wife enjoyed their time in Brooklyn, but it’s possible he could get a more lucrative offer elsewhere.
  • Sources tell Marc Stein (via Twitter) that Isaiah Hartenstein hasn’t ruled out a return to the Clippers, stating that it’s “well-known among rival teams” with interest in the center that he might re-sign with Los Angeles. Lewis hears similarly, with sources close to the 24-year-old telling The Post that “he loves” playing for the Clips. The main issue is the Clippers are reportedly using their taxpayer MLE to sign John Wall, so they’ll be extremely limited in what they can offer Hartenstein. Stein previously reported that the Magic are the “leading suitor” for Hartenstein, who has also been linked to the Bulls, Raptors and Rockets.

Western Free Agent Rumors: Monk, Warriors, Walker, Dragic, House

The Lakers are hoping to re-sign Malik Monk with their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that may not be enough to keep the 24-year-old guard, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Monk indicated this week that he might accept less money to stay in L.A., but sources tell Fischer that he plans to explore his value on the open market. The Lakers are limited to an offer of around $6.4MM under the MLE.

Monk developed into a valuable scoring threat in his first year with the team, averaging 13.8 points in 76 games while shooting 47.3% from the field and 39.1% on three-pointers.

There’s more free agent news from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors are likely to keep center Kevon Looney, Fischer states in the same piece, with other teams expecting him to get a multi-year contract that averages about $10MM per season. Golden State would like to re-sign Gary Payton II, but he could be tempted to leave for a full mid-level offer. Otto Porter may not return, as sources tell Fischer that he might get several offers at the taxpayer MLE.
  • The Spurs aren’t expected to keep Lonnie Walker, Fischer adds. San Antonio must decide by today whether to extend a $6.3MM qualifying offer to the 23-year-old guard.
  • Jalen Brunson‘s expected exit from Dallas increases the likelihood that veteran guard Goran Dragic will emerge as a target for the Mavericks, Marc Stein writes in his latest column for Substack.
  • The Kings may have interest in signing forward Danuel House, tweets Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.