Malik Monk was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise awful 2021-22 season for the Los Angeles Lakers. In the midst of a season highlighted by stagnant offense, injuries, and missing the playoffs, Monk had the best season of his NBA career.
The 6-foot-3 guard was a consistent force in both the starting five and off the bench. He was an efficient shooter who could handle the rock, put the ball on the floor, and hold his own on the defensive end. Monk, 24, is coming off back-to-back reputable seasons and offers NBA teams a plug-and-play wing.
Here are three ideal destinations for Monk in the 2022 NBA Free Agency.
Malik Monk takes his talents to the Orlando Magic
The Magic have $20-plus million in cap space and a trove of former lottery selections, including No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero. How should they approach free agency? Well, Monk represents a viable way for the Magic to distribute some of their cap space.
Orlando’s backcourt and wing rotation already include Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, a healthy Markelle Fultz, and Terrence Ross. It makes sense for Orlando to trade the veteran Ross, who’s a free agent after next season, which opens the door for Monk to hold down a high-minute rotation role. One way or another, Monk provides a raw Magic team with a sturdy shooter who can make an impact on both ends of the floor.
- Malik Monk stats (2021-22): 13.8 PPG, 3.4 REB, 2.9 AST, while shooting 47.3/39.1/79.5
If all goes well, Monk can be their sixth man or start out on the wing, providing the Magic with a player on the rise. Another option for the Magic is signing Monk and trading him for value within the next year if they have another treacherous season.
All that said, Orlando may prefer to trade for undesirable contracts for the sake of getting more future draft picks, as opposed to adding to their youth.
Monk re-signs with the Los Angeles Lakers
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, as Monk had an eye-opening season with the Lakers. Both parties benefit from a long-term commitment.
Monk’s theoretical departure would be a substantial blow for the Lakers in terms of complementing the big three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. The five-year guard’s outside shooting is an optimum fit in-between said players, as is his upside to become a more complete scorer. If and when the Lakers move on from Westbrook after next season, Monk would become a more vital source of offense for head coach Darvin Ham.
As for Monk, he has the potential to play on a perennial playoff team — working under the mindset that it can’t get any worse for the Lakers than it was last season. Replacing Monk would be daunting for the Lakers, especially since he gave them extraordinary production on a league-minimum deal.
The factor that could stop the Lakers from keeping Monk, though, is him wanting an eight-figure salary, which Los Angeles likely cannot muster.
Sacramento Kings steal Malik Monk away from in-state rivals
The Kings have a new head coach (Mike Brown), selected Keegan Murray with the No. 4 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and will enter their first training camp with Domantas Sabonis. Of course, it’s still difficult to figure out how the puzzle pieces fit with the Kings. Signing Monk, however, makes them a more complementary system.
Sacramento has been one of the worst shooting, scoring, and defensive teams in the NBA of late. Monk aids them in all three areas, specifically through his offensive strong suit. Monk will stretch the floor for the likes of De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell, who are attacking scorers, while adding more variety to their offense as a whole.
Murray does a little bit of everything on both ends. Harrison Barnes is a well-rounded player. Sabonis can score inside and outside. Richaun Holmes is an athletic insider finisher. Monk adds all the more scoring and shooting and should be attainable at a reasonable price.
Sacramento would likely have to engage Los Angeles on a sign-and-trade for Monk. They could send Justin Holiday, an instant rotation player, to the Lakers.