Malik Monk

Malik Monk Open To Considering Discount To Stay With Lakers

After signing him to a minimum-salary contract a year ago, the Lakers will be limited in their ability to offer Malik Monk a raise in free agency this summer, but the shooting guard told Jovan Buha of The Athletic that he’s not closing the door on the idea of accepting a “hometown” discount to stay in Los Angeles.

“Money is always a part, man, but I don’t think it’s the biggest priority in my free agency this year,” Monk said. “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.

“… They might not be able to pay me as much as I want,” Monk said of the Lakers. “But I could be here and be way more comfortable as a Laker than going to any other team and they’re paying me $5 million more. So it’s just me trying to figure out what team would really want me.”

Monk, who earned approximately $1.79MM as a Laker in 2021/22, enjoyed a career year with his new team after spending four seasons in Charlotte. He established new career highs in PPG (13.8), RPG (3.4), APG (2.9), and FG% (.473) and was arguably L.A.’s most dangerous three-point threat, making 2.3 threes per game at a 39.1% rate.

Because the Lakers only hold his Non-Bird rights, they wouldn’t be able to offer him more than about $2.53MM without dipping in their mid-level exception. Even then, given their cap situation, the Lakers will likely only have the taxpayer MLE ($6.39MM) at their disposal rather than the full version. According to Buha, multiple league sources believe Monk could get $10-12MM per year on the open market.

While Monk “loved” playing for the Lakers, according to his brother Marcus, and is open to the idea of taking a team-friendly deal to stick around, he intends to consider all his options when he becomes a free agent this week.

“I definitely would still want to evaluate things,” Monk told Buha. “You never know what happens. Some other team could come in and hopefully tell me the same thing and maybe I get a little bit more minutes on that team. So it’s just actually me being presented and being able to go out there and do what I do is a priority. That’s the biggest priority: A team that’s just going to let me come in and be myself.”

Lakers Rumors: Westbrook, Wall, Monk, THT, Nunn, Vogel, James

Michael Scotto and Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype explore potential offseason moves for the Lakers in their latest podcast. Scotto asked three different league executives for their opinions regarding Russell Westbrook‘s trade value, with slightly different results.

One said he had no interest in acquiring Westbrook whatsoever. The second executive called Westbrook’s contract “terrible” and said it’s viewed very negatively around the league, and would only be dealt for multiple other salary dumps.

The third executive was a little more circumspect in his assessment, noting that Westbrook’s $47MM player option for 2022/23 is likely to be perceived as a negative asset, but certain teams might take it on in order to get rid of long-term contracts.

Gozlan doesn’t think the Lakers’ front office will consider using the waive-and-stretch provision on Westbrook, considering the team will finally be clear of Luol Deng‘s dead money cap hit ($5MM) this summer. Teams might be interested trading for Westbrook if he indicates he’d accept a buyout agreement for a slightly discounted rate — perhaps $5-10MM less — which Gozlan believes is the high-end of the range he might earn as a free agent.

Both Gozlan and Scotto think that the framework for a potential Westbrook/John Wall swap will be revisited this summer, with one GM telling Scotto that he thinks the Rockets guard can still be a high-level backup in the NBA, or even a fringe starter.

Here are some more Lakers rumors:

  • Scotto queried four executives to gauge the value of unrestricted free agent Malik Monk, and they projected his next deal to be in the range of the taxpayer mid-level exception ($6.4MM) to the non-taxpayer mid-level ($10MM). As of now, the most the Lakers can offer Monk is the taxpayer mid-level.
  • Expect Los Angeles to again dangle Talen Horton-Tucker ($10.26MM), Kendrick Nunn ($5.25MM) and draft compensation to improve the roster, says Scotto.
  • League executives agree that former coach Frank Vogel was the scapegoat for the team’s disastrous season, with one noting that the well-respected Vogel should “be able to pick his spot as a high-level assistant if that’s something he wants to do,” according to Scotto.
  • LeBron James‘ future in L.A. is the biggest story surrounding the franchise, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. James is eligible for a two-year, $97MM extension in August, which could secure his place on the roster through 2025. However, sources at Klutch Sports say that the agency and James have yet to discuss the star’s future, per Pincus.

Lakers Notes: Monk, Westbrook, LeBron, Pelinka

The Lakers will likely make a strong effort to retain Malik Monk this summer, but they only hold Monk’s Non-Bird rights and would have to dip into their mid-level exception to sign the 24-year-old to a deal worth more than about $2.5MM. Even a deal using the taxpayer mid-level couldn’t start at more than about $6.4MM.

The Lakers’ cap limitations could open the door for another team to sign the former lottery pick, who will be an unrestricted free agent after enjoying a career year in Los Angeles. According to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com, sources around the league believe Monk could get the equivalent of the full non-taxpayer MLE ($10MM+ per year) on the open market.

One general manager who spoke to Deveney speculated that the Bulls, Cavaliers, and Mavericks will be suitors for Monk this offseason and also singled out the Knicks as a team to keep an eye on.

“The team to watch, if he is going to leave the Lakers, which he obviously should, is the Knicks,” the executive said. “They had interest in him last year, and some of it might depend on what happens with Evan Fournier, do they keep him or move him? But that is a team that needs talent, needs shooters and Monk will be a good value even at the mid-level.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report considers six hypothetical Russell Westbrook trade scenarios and evaluates which of them are the most realistic — and which would appeal most to the Lakers.
  • Westbrook exhibited a lack of self awareness during his end-of-season press conference on Monday, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who says the point guard doubled down on past excuses and created new ones to absolve himself of responsibility for his disappointing season. “The famous ‘source’ stories that came out about myself, whether it be between me and the staff, me and Frank (Vogel), me and the fans, there’s just so many made-up stories that are not true,” Westbrook said, though he declined to give specific examples. “It’s just always having to fight against that constantly. It’s just not (being) given a fair chance.”
  • In a column for The Los Angeles Times, Dylan Hernandez argues that LeBron James also didn’t accept enough responsibility for the Lakers’ struggles in 2021/22. While multiple reports have suggested that James and Anthony Davis played major roles in orchestrating the trade for Westbrook last summer, LeBron downplayed his involvement in roster moves. “Ask me my opinion, I’m going to give my opinion,” he said. “But at the end of the day, they’re going to make the decision that they feel is best for the franchise.”
  • Conversely, in his own media exit interview, VP of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka made himself more accountable than he has in the past, though he didn’t look comfortable doing so, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic. Pelinka has two years left on his current contract with the Lakers, sources tell Oram, who says the GM is under significant pressure not to repeat this season’s disaster in 2022/23.

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, James, Pelinka, Monk, Offseason Preview

Russell Westbrook admitted he and the Lakers had a “very disappointing season” and took a swipe at now-former head coach Frank Vogel during his postseason press conference. Westbrook was often benched in late-game situations and didn’t seem to understand why, according to Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

“I’m not sure what his issue was with me,” Westbrook said of Vogel. “When I first got here, I just felt that I never was given a fair chance just to be who I need to be to better help this team.”

We have more on the Lakers:

  • LeBron James, who is eligible to sign an extension with the team this offseason, plans on a major turnaround next season, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. “I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, but I’m still hungry for more,” James said. “I’m confident that this organization wants the same. That’s what this organization has always been about. And I also want to just change the narrative of how this franchise can compete at a high level again.”
  • VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka admits his roster moves last offseason “did not work” and vows to do a better job this summer, Woike and Turner relay in a separate story“This was a disappointing Lakers season at every level,” Pelinka said. “In the face of disappointment, our fans expect more, and that’s at every facet. It starts with the front office led by me and our ability to construct the right roster. It starts with the coaches holding players accountable and making sure that there is on-court execution. It goes to our training staff doing everything they can to make sure we have healthy bodies on the court. And it goes to our players to play at … with on-court execution at the highest level because that’s what Lakers fans expect and deserve from all of us.”
  • Free agent Malik Monk said “me feeling at home” will be a key to deciding where he’ll play next season, Goon tweets. Monk was one of the few bright spots this season, averaging a career-high 13.8 PPG and 2.9 APG.
  • In his offseason preview, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes the Lakers’ salary cap issues and lack of draft picks to improve the roster. He explores how Pelinka might approach the offseason with those limitations. In his own Lakers offseason primer, The Athletic’s Jovan Buha said youth, athleticism, length, shooting and defense must be prioritized, and they need to sign a starting-level wing with their taxpayer midlevel exception.

Hornets Might Have Interest In Russell Westbrook

League insiders have increasingly mentioned the Hornets as a team that might have interest in trading for Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, writes Marc Stein at Substack.

Charlotte would only be interested in Westbrook in order to create long-term financial flexibility, and based on salary-matching rules, the team would have to send out roughly $38MM to acquire the former MVP. Stein points to Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier as contracts the team might want to move to accommodate a new deal for Miles Bridges this summer, plus the future max extension of LaMelo Ball.

Hayward has been very productive when healthy for Charlotte, but injuries have again been a concern. After appearing in 44 of 72 games last season, he’s played in 49 of 79 contests this season and is listed as doubtful for Thursday’s matchup with Orlando (Twitter link). Hayward will earn $30.075MM next season and $31.5MM in 2023/24.

Rozier has also been productive over the past few seasons. His four-year, $96.26MM extension starts next season, so he’ll be under contract through ’25/26.

Pairing Hayward or Rozier with Kelly Oubre could work as a framework of a deal, Stein says. He also notes that Hornets owner Michael Jordan has long admired Westbrook, although it isn’t known whether that would play a factor in a potential trade.

The Rockets remain the most logical trade partner for Westbrook due to John Wall‘s salary being a near-perfect match, but the Lakers might not find that any more palatable than they did previously, considering Houston was asking for a first-round pick, per Stein.

League sources tell Stein that the Lakers also haven’t ruled out using the waive-and-stretch provision on Westbrook’s contract, which would split his $47.06MM player option over three seasons with annual hits of $15.69MM. Going that route would take Los Angeles out of the luxury tax and make it much easier to retain Malik Monk; the team badly wants to bring him back, so it’s considered a viable possibility.

Lakers Rumors: Coaching Change, Davis, Westbrook, THT, Nunn, Monk

An offseason coaching change seems inevitable for the Lakers, who could see their hopes for the play-in tournament end as early as tonight, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Sources tell Fischer that L.A. is expected to fire Frank Vogel after the end of the season. Vogel has reportedly been on the hot seat for some time, and only received a one-year contract extension last summer.

There will be a long list of potential replacements, but Fischer identifies Jazz coach Quin Snyder and Sixers coach Doc Rivers as the most intriguing names to watch. Marc Stein of Substack recently linked Snyder to the Lakers’ job, and possibly to the Spurs as well. Snyder responded by calling it “disrespectful” to the teams involved to discuss rumors while those coaching positions are filled.

Snyder was a Lakers assistant 10 years ago, and Utah may decide to make a coaching change of its own after a late-season slide, but Fischer cites skepticism around the league that he’ll wind up in Los Angeles. The feeling is that Snyder would prefer to wait for the San Antonio job, even if Gregg Popovich returns next season.

Rivers could become available if Philadelphia has an early playoff exit, and he would be considered by the Jazz as well, Fischer adds. Rivers had a long history in Boston with Utah CEO Danny Ainge.

Fischer has more news regarding the Lakers:

  • Some rival teams have wondered if Anthony Davis might be available in a trade this summer, but multiple sources told Fischer that won’t be an option the Lakers seriously consider. Davis has been severely limited by injuries the past two years, playing 39 games so far this season and 36 in 2020/21, but L.A.’s front office still believes it has the makings of a championship contender when Davis and LeBron James are healthy.
  • The Lakers will try again to trade Russell Westbrook, but they still may not have any options other than a deal with the Rockets for John Wall that would likely also cost them a future first-round pick. Talen Horton-Tucker, who Fischer said was nearly sent to the Raptors at the deadline in a three-way deal that would have included the Knicks, will also be on the market, along with Kendrick Nunn, who is expected to pick up his $5.25MM player option.
  • Malik Monk was the Lakers’ best offseason signing, ranking third on the team in points scored and minutes played on a minimum-salary contract, but he may be somewhere else next season. 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 $6.4MM. Rival executives expect him to get offers with a starting salary as high as $10MM, says Fischer.

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.”

California Notes: Lakers, Holmes, Draymond, Clippers

The struggling 29-39 Lakers, winners of just two of their last ten games, are looking to the future, encouraged by the development of some of their youngsters, writes Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register.

Though the Los Angeles front office mostly opted to build its new-look roster around older veterans this summer, a handful of younger role players have emerged around 37-year-old All-Star forward LeBron James this season.

24-year-old guard Malik Monk and 23-year-old rookie wing Austin Reaves, alongside 25-year-old forward Stanley Johnson, have emerged as three of the Lakers’ more reliable players who may have yet to hit their ceilings. 21-year-old swingman Talen Horton-Tucker remains an intriguing option as well, though he has underperformed relative to his new three-year, $32MM contract this season.

“They’ve continued to improve and get better and more comfortable in our system, in our environment,” head coach Frank Vogel said of the Lakers’ youth movement. “Malik, Austin and Talen. That trio is another reason amongst others why I believe we have a chance.”

There’s more out of California:

  • The NBA has fined Kings big man Richaun Holmes to the tune of $25K after he threw a basketball into the crowd during a 134-125 loss to the Jazz on March 12, per a league press release (Twitter link). Holmes was ejected from the game at the time of the incident. It shouldn’t make too big of a dent in his wallet — the 28-year-old is in the first season of a lucrative new four-year, $46.5MM contract he signed with Sacramento during the 2021 offseason.
  • Despite being inactive for the last 30 Warriors contests this season due to a nagging back injury, All-Star power forward Draymond Green remains convinced he can still win his second Defensive Player of the Year Award this season, per Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area“Yeah, I’ve seen guys win with not many more games than I’m gonna play,” Green said. “I don’t know what league everybody else has been watching, but I have not seen anyone solidify themselves as Defensive Player of the Year.” Johnson notes that, should Green be available for all 13 remaining Warriors games during the 2021/22 regular season, he will only have suited up for 48 total this year.
  • With a 36-35 record, the eighth-seeded Clippers are six games behind the sixth-seeded Nuggets in the Western Conference. L.A. has just 11 games left on its regular season slate. The team has little to no chance of avoiding the play-in tournament at this point of the year, barring a collapse from both the Nuggets and the 40-30 seventh seed, the Timberwolves. The team is also a whopping 5.5 games ahead of the ninth-seeded Lakers. Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register examines how the Clippers intend to operate down the home stretch of the season given the reality of their seeding. “We’ll get a chance to experiment with our small lineup, which we gotta get better at once we get everyone healthy and get everyone back and then kinda see how that plays out, head coach Tyronn Lue said. Lue also intends to work through after-timeout plays, with an emphasis on helping shooting guard Luke Kennard improve his timing off screens.

Lakers Notes: Monk, LeBron, Handy

Malik Monk has found redemption and a home with the Lakers, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. It’s an interesting, in-depth profile/interview with the 24-year-old guard and his older brother Marcus, a former NFL player, who serves as Monk’s agent.

As Buha relays, Monk had a bumpy road with Charlotte and his value was depressed due to inconsistent play and violating the league’s anti-drug program in 2019/20. The Lakers tried to trade for Monk in ’19/20 and ’20/21, but the Hornets didn’t budge and said Monk was part of their future.

After the Hornets refused to trade him, Monk was then surprised that they didn’t tender him a qualifying offer or re-sign him last summer after he had the best season of his career to that point. Those moves further hurt his reputation around the league, according to Buha.

Teams don’t have access to all the information on the character of a person and who the person is,” Marcus said. “They’re not in the locker rooms. … I think all of that stuff played into why there wasn’t much interest. And, from me looking at it as if I’m the other 29 teams, I don’t blame them. … All of those things needed to happen. If those things wouldn’t have happened, he would be in the mindset that he’s in right now.

He’s literally trying to kill every time he touches the floor. Because there are 29 other teams that had the opportunity to sign him.”

Monk thought he’d receive several multiyear offers above the league minimum, but only the Lakers and Mavericks called and offered him a minimum deal. He chose the Lakers because VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka‘s pitch was both flattering and compelling to a young player looking for a consistent role.

The Lakers just let me be me,” Monk said. “Let me play free. I’m going out there with a free mind, not worrying about a mistake, and if I’m gonna come out if I make a mistake. They just give me all the confidence to be me.”

Although the Lakers have had a disappointing season, Monk has been a bright spot. He’s averaging career-highs of 13.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 27.1 minutes per game, with a shooting slash line of .471/.399/.772 through 52 games. Monk will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and it might be a challenge for the Lakers to retain him — they only have his Non-Bird rights, so they’ll be limited to an offer of 120% of his minimum salary.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Insider link) thinks that LeBron James is trying to force L.A. into major offseason moves with his recent comments and actions. James was reportedly unhappy that the team stood pat at the trade deadline and then was further upset by Pelinka’s comments stating that James and Anthony Davis had been consulted and were aligned with the inaction.
  • In his latest column for Substack, Marc Stein says he isn’t convinced the Lakers will bend to LeBron’s will. As Stein explains, the franchise thinks highly of Pelinka, and James and agent Rich Paul are “still outsiders when it comes to the Lakers’ power dynamics.”
  • Assistant coach Phil Handy says James has always done his best to create cohesion with teammates. “His approach has always been about, ‘Let me embrace the guys that are around me and how can we figure out ways to win? How can we figure out ways to get better?’ He’s always been a guy that is all in with whoever is in uniform with him,” Handy said, per Mark Medina of NBA.com.

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, James, Monk, Davis

The Lakers rallied from 21 points behind and pulled out a much-needed win over the Knicks Saturday night, and they did much of it without Russell Westbrook. The former MVP, who was booed by L.A. fans in the midst of a terrible shooting night, was kept on the bench for the first 6:30 of the fourth quarter and all of overtime, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. It’s the second crunch-time benching in less than a month for Westbrook, but he reacted differently than when it happened against the Pacers nine games ago.

“I just talked to [coach Frank Vogel] about that I was upset about it,” he said of the Indiana game. “But I was more upset I didn’t win the game. But not about when or how he would do it. But it doesn’t matter. Like I said, it’s not about me. I don’t want to make it about me. It’s more about our team and our guys. Tonight we got a good win and now move onto the next one.”

Westbrook and the Lakers haven’t come close to meeting the expectations that were set when he was acquired from the Wizards in an offseason trade. L.A. is ninth in the West at 26-28 and Westbrook’s poor shooting has made him a scapegoat for all that has gone wrong. There have been rumors that the front office will try to move him before Thursday’s trade deadline, but LeBron James offered support after the game.

“I told him to keep going, to stop second-guessing himself during the game,” James said. “There were a couple of times where he had good looks, second-guessed himself and a couple times where he had some drives and he had them and second-guessed himself. He’s an instinctive player and he should never, what he’s done in this league, he should never second-guess himself if he’s put the work in — and he’s put the work in.  … And I don’t need to harp on what we need to say to him. I mean, he’s a big-time player. And I have the utmost confidence in his ability, not only for this team but for himself, individually.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • James returned to the lineup with a triple-double and didn’t show any effects of the knee swelling that forced him to miss five games, McMenamin writes in a separate story“After the first quarter, the knee loosened up a lot more,” James said. “My mind loosened up a lot more. And I was just able to play basketball.”
  • Malik Monk also had a huge game with 29 points while shooting 4-of-8 from three-point range, but as Bobby Marks of ESPN points out (via Twitter), re-signing Monk won’t be easy. Unless the Lakers can unload salary during the offseason, their offer will be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception, which will be worth about $6.3MM.
  • After eight consecutive All-Star appearances, Anthony Davis wasn’t voted into the game or selected for the reserves this year. Although he could still be chosen to replace the injured Draymond Green, he wouldn’t be upset about missing the event, per Mark Medina of NBA.com.