Malik Monk

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.

Hornets’ Malik Monk Suspended Indefinitely

Hornets guard Malik Monk has been suspended by the NBA for violating the terms of the league’s anti-drug program, according to a press release issued this afternoon.

The NBA didn’t announce a specific number of games for Monk’s suspension. According to the press release, the ban will begin when the Hornets face the Knicks tonight and will continue until Monk is determined to be “in full compliance” with the anti-drug program.

We don’t know the full details surrounding Monk’s suspension, 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.

Because Monk’s suspension is open-ended, it remains to be seen how much money it will end up costing him, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. A suspension of less than 20 games will cost Monk 1/145th of his $4,028,400 salary per game. A suspension of 20+ games would result in a loss of 1/110th of his salary per game. So if he’s suspended for the rest of the season (25 games), he’d lose $915,545.

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 lately, scoring 17.0 PPG on .457/.350/.851 shooting in his last 13 games (27.9 MPG).

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Wizards, Monk, Gordon

The Trae Young-led Hawks enjoyed an exciting 2018/19 season, and their returning players were confronted with big developmental questions, according to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner. Kirschner revisits an earlier column from before the Hawks’ season kicked off with answers to those questions.

Young’s All-Star performance this season has proved that he has the goods on offense, but many of his teammates have underwhelmed thus far this year as the Hawks have stumbled to a 15-41 record heading into the All-Star break.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards are guardedly optimistic about their season heading into the All-Star break, as Candace Buckner of the Washington Post reports. “We’re in a good spot,” Washington star Bradley Beal said. “I wish we could have had a few more before the break. I think we lost two that I felt we could’ve won, but for the most part we’re in a good position.”
  • Third-year Hornets shooting guard Malik Monk concedes he may not have been ready for the NBA when he was drafted at age 19, per a conversation with Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “I went to Kentucky, and I still wasn’t ready for the NBA,” Monk told Bonnell. “Some days you’re tired. Or your body hurts. Or you have a headache. And nobody wants to hear that. You’ve got to fight through that. That’s what I’ve really learned — that you’ve got to fight.”
  • Magic forward and two-time Slam Dunk also-ran Aaron Gordon aspires to win his first Slam Dunk Contest this All-Star weekend in Chicago, according to Josh Cohen of Magic.com.“It would be incredible,” Gordon said. “It would be one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Knicks Notes: Monk, DSJ, D-Lo, Rose, Payton, More

Before Steve Mills was removed from his position as the Knicks‘ president of basketball operations, there was some internal support for a potential trade with the Hornets that would have sent Malik Monk to New York, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Begley notes that Dennis Smith Jr. would’ve gone to Charlotte in the deal, though it’s not clear what other pieces would have been involved on either side. Both Smith and Monk were prospects the Knicks passed over in the 2017 draft for Frank Ntilikina.

Within his roundup of the Knicks’ deadline discussions, Begley also says that before Mills’ departure, there were members of the organization that felt as if they’d made “significant progress” toward a D’Angelo Russell trade with the Warriors.

We don’t know exactly how those talks played out, so it’s hard to say whether that confidence was warranted. But for what it’s worth, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Wednesday that none of New York’s offers had been “even remotely appealing” to Golden State. One of the Knicks’ proposals included Bobby Portis, Allonzo Trier, Ntilikina, and presumably some form of draft compensation, sources tell Begley.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Marc Berman of The New York Post takes a look at the Knicks’ impending hire of agent Leon Rose as their new head of basketball operations, citing one NBA executive who said, “MSG and CAA have been in bed for years. This shouldn’t be surprising.”
  • Berman notes in his article on Rose that the veteran agent is tight with Kentucky head coach John Calipari. However, Calipari said today that he has no plans to become the Knicks’ next coach, according to Kyle Tucker of The Athletic (Twitter link). Calipari said he’d help Rose in any way he can — “It just wouldn’t be to coach.”
  • One decision Rose will face this summer will be on Elfrid Payton‘s $8MM non-guaranteed salary for 2020/21. Berman examines the factors that will go into that decision, pointing out that Payton is a CAA client.
  • In an interview on Showtime’s “All the Smoke,” Kevin Durant was once again asked about his free agency decision last summer. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post details, Durant replied that he didn’t seriously consider any teams beside the Nets. “I looked at other places — the Clippers, I took a peek at the Knicks just to do my due diligence — but I really wanted to play for the black and white,” Durant said.

Knicks Rumors: Ujiri, Rozier, Monk, DSJ, Morris

After becoming the first team to fire a head coach during the 2019/20 season, the Knicks are now the first team to part ways with a head of basketball operations this year as well, having announced this afternoon that Steve Mills has been removed from his position as club president.

As general manager Scott Perry takes over the front office on an interim basis, the Knicks will have just over 48 hours to consider how significantly they want to shake up their roster at this winter’s trade deadline.

Here’s the latest on the franchise, including an update on the front office situation:

  • While Masai Ujiri has long been considered New York’s “dream candidate,” the Knicks’ reluctance to give up draft compensation for the Raptors‘ president of basketball operations may complicate the their pursuit of him, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Ujiri’s contract in Toronto runs through 2020/21, so if he wants to leave before it expires, the Raptors would have leverage to request a sizable return.
  • Knicks owner James Dolan has already had conversations with one possible candidate to replace Mills, according to Wojnarowski, who suggests (via Twitter) that New York’s search for a new president may move too quickly to wait on a drawn-out courtship of Ujiri.
  • Following up on a report that the Hornets and Knicks have discussed Julius Randle, Ian Begley of SNY.tv suggests that Terry Rozier, Malik Monk, and Dennis Smith Jr. are among the names that have come up in talks between the two teams. New York pursued Rozier during 2019’s free agent period, but doesn’t have strong interest in him now, according to Begley (via Twitter). It’s worth noting that Begley’s report surfaced before the team parted ways with Mills.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post, who previously noted that Mills and Perry disagreed on some deadline-related issues, suggests that one debate in the front office was over whether to trade Marcus Morris or keep him and try to re-sign him in the summer. It’s not clear which side of the debate the two executives were on.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic makes a case for why the Knicks should seriously consider pushing for a D’Angelo Russell trade, assuming the price isn’t exorbitant.

Lowe’s Latest: Redick, Bertans, Collins, Drummond, OKC, More

A number of players who have been mentioned as trade candidates this season may not be moved – or may not be available at all – at Thursday’s deadline, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in an article jam-packed with trade-related rumors and speculation.

For instance, teams who have called the Pelicans asking about J.J. Redick have been “shooed away,” sources tell Lowe. The Wizards have taken a similar approach to clubs inquiring on Davis Bertans, though Lowe notes that could change if Washington is offered something concrete that moves the needle more than a future first-round pick.

As Shams Charania of The Athletic reported last week, teams have been monitoring John Collins in case the Hawks think about trading him, but there’s no indication Atlanta has interest in moving Collins “on any of the general terms being bandied about,” Lowe writes.

The Pistons‘ talks involving Andre Drummond aren’t entirely dormant, but it’s “far from a sure thing” that he’ll be moved, according to Lowe, who suggests that even if Detroit does make a deal, the return will likely be less than the team envisioned.

Meanwhile, the Thunder have been mentioned all season long as a potential seller, given their offseason moves and their veteran trade candidates. But the safest bet is that they stand pat with guys like Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroder, and Steven Adams, per Lowe.

As Lowe points out, the Thunder could still have leverage to make deals after the season, when Schroder and Adams will be entering contract years and Gallinari will be a prime sign-and-trade candidate. The Heat are among the teams to inquire on Gallinari this season, sources tell Lowe.

As noted above, Lowe’s latest ESPN piece is filled with many more trade rumors and notes. Here are several of the highlights:

  • Lowe confirms a previous report that the Nuggets and Heat are among the teams to express interest in Jrue Holiday. Lowe also names the Raptors as a club that would be an ideal fit for the Pelicans guard, but he has a hard time envisioning a deal involving any of those teams unless they’re willing to part with young players like Michael Porter Jr., Tyler Herro, or OG Anunoby, which seems unlikely.
  • The Pacers could probably net a first-round pick for backup guard Aaron Holiday, but haven’t shown any real interest in moving him, says Lowe.
  • The chatter about the Trail Blazers making a major win-now move has died down, sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, the Lakers have explored the Kyle Kuzma market and are eyeing several ball-handlers, including Kings swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has also received interest from the Hornets.
  • The Sixers don’t intend to include Matisse Thybulle in any deal and seem most likely to “tinker” around the edges of their roster, per Lowe.
  • The Grizzlies have asked for a first-round pick from teams inquiring on Jae Crowder, according to Lowe. However, he’d “bet heavily” against any potential trade partner meeting that price.
  • Lowe provides updates on both Morris brothers, suggesting that the Knicks “seem hell-bent” on keeping and re-signing Marcus Morris, and citing sources who say the Pistons could probably get a second-round pick for Markieff Morris.
  • A lot of teams have asked the Bucks about Sterling Brown, while Pistons youngsters Christian Wood and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk have also generated interest, according to Lowe, who thinks that Detroit is more likely to engage in talks on Wood than Mykhailiuk. Lowe also hears that a few clubs have “poked around” on Kings big man Harry Giles, and identifies Denzel Valentine (Bulls), Jakob Poeltl (Spurs), Marvin Williams (Hornets), and Malik Monk (Hornets) as other under-the-radar trade candidates to watch.

Malik Monk On Knicks’ Radar

Some members of the Knicks‘ organization view Hornets guard Malik Monk as a trade target worth pursuing, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. However, Begley cautions that it’s not clear whether New York and Charlotte have actually had any conversations about Monk.

Monk, who will turn 22 next month, hasn’t developed like the Hornets hoped when they drafted him 11th overall in 2017. This season, he’s averaging 8.4 PPG with a career-high .429 FG%, but his 3PT% has slipped to a dismal .252. A change of scenery could benefit the former Kentucky sharpshooter.

As Begley writes, the Knicks are believed to be interested in acquiring a starter-level player who could help the team in both the short- and long-term. However, the front office appears reluctant to part with any of its top young prospects or future first-round picks, so acquiring a starter-level player will be a challenge.

Landing a reclamation project like Monk might be a more realistic scenario, though the Knicks haven’t had much success with another change-of-scenery prospect from the 2017 lottery, Dennis Smith Jr.

Whether or not they pursue Monk, the Knicks seem likely to be active at the trade deadline, according to Begley, who notes that contenders around the NBA continue to monitor New York’s veterans, including Marcus Morris.

Eastern Notes: DeRozan, Heat, Hornets

Would it make sense for the Raptors to trade for DeMar DeRozan? Toronto can combine the contracts of Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka in order to make a trade work, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes. However, the scribe believes there are other options on the trade market that would better fit the team such as Orlando’s Evan Fournier.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Trading for either Chris Paul or Kevin Love would take Miami out of the Giannis Antetokounmpo sweepstakes in 2021 due to a lack of cap space, Hollinger adds in the same piece. The Heat are one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference and may need more time to figure out whether it’s worth giving up the chance to strengthen the squad now to chase a superstar later.
  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer wonders whether Malik Monk is better served as a long-term piece in Charlotte or as a trade asset that could bring in additional talent. Bonnell doesn’t see Monk as a key piece for the Hornets‘ future in the way Devonte’ Graham and PJ Washington are.
  • Despite a weak Eastern Conference, the Hornets are unlikely to make any moves with the playoffs in mind, Bonnell adds in the same piece. Charlotte could look to trade one of their players on expiring deals, though the team would be looking for draft picks or younger players with upside in any such trade.