Friday, June 21 2024

Kings stars want Monk back but understand business side of NBA originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Malik Monk didn’t play in the Kings’ season-ending NBA Play-In Tournament loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday at Smoothie King Center, but his name was a hot topic in Sacramento’s locker room afterward.

The 26-year-old guard is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and will almost certainly be one of the most talked about and sought after players on the open market if he gets that far.

The Kings can re-sign Monk under the early Bird exception. He earned more than $19 million during his two seasons in Sacramento but likely will command much more than that as a free agent or if he and the Kings agree to an extension.

Despite being unable to play over the final three weeks of the season due to a sprained MCL in his right knee, the former first-round draft pick raised his value significantly while developing into one of the NBA’s best reserves, if not the best.

Before getting hurt, Monk was widely recognized around the league as a leading candidate for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. His status for the honor obviously took a hit when he injured his knee, but there has been speculation that he could still win it.

Monk collected career-high averages in points (15.4) and assists (5.1) while knocking down 148 3-pointers – the second-most of his career – to go with an efficient 39 blocks. Monk played in 72 games during the 2023-24 regular season and scored 20 or more in more than a third of those games.

“He was extremely big for us,” point guard De’Aaron Fox told reporters in New Orleans after the Kings’ 105-98 loss to the Pelicans in the Western Conference’s final Play-In game. “People that watched us play know that he should be Sixth Man of the Year. I feel like what he gave to us in the two years he has been here, he showed the value, what he can do for a team.”

For years Kings have been searching for consistent complementary scorers to surround Fox with. Domantas Sabonis has provided that to a certain extent, but Monk has proven that he can definitely be that guy when given the opportunity.

Monk also took a big step forward this season in terms of his leadership skills. Throughout the season coach Mike Brown repeatedly praised the Kentucky product for his efforts and influence inside the Kings’ locker room.

Pairing him with Fox on the court also added a different dimension to Sacramento’s offense.

“Malik is a play-maker on the court with Foxy,” Sabonis said. “When we have two of those guys on the court at the same time it makes it really difficult for defenses to guard.”

While Fox’s preference is for the Kings to re-sign Monk and bring him back for more, he also understands that his former college teammate has put himself in line for an even bigger paycheck than the one he has been getting in Sacramento.

“I’m happy for him regardless if he’s with us or if he isn’t. He knows that,” Fox said. “At the end of the day this is a business and you can only play basketball for so long.”

The hope of pretty much everyone involved with the Kings is that Monk will continue to do that in a Sacramento uniform.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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