Malik Monk could reportedly garner as much as $10-12 million per year as a free agent this offseason, league sources told The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.
However, the veteran guard indicated he might be willing to take less money to remain with the Lakers.
“Money is always a part, man, but I don’t think it’s the biggest priority in my free agency this year,” he said. “It’s me feel like I’m having a home and I can go out there and do the same things I did this year. … [The Lakers] might not be able to pay me as much as I want. But I could be here and be way more comfortable as a Laker than going to any other team [that would pay] me $5 million more. So it’s just me trying to figure out what team would really want me.”
Monk, 24, was one of the few bright spots for the Lakers in what was an otherwise incredibly disappointing 2021-22 campaign, averaging 13.8 points and 2.9 assists in a role largely off the bench while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three.
After struggling to justify his status as a first-round pick in the 2017 NBA draft at times during his first four seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, Monk perfectly played the part of a perimeter role player with the Lakers.
“[I hope I proved] that I’m a basketball player, man,” he said of last season. “That I’m an all-around basketball player that cannot only shoot, cannot only just score the ball, but that I can play-make for others. I cannot have the ball, I can have the ball, and I can make plays doing both. Not just scoring.”
While Monk would potentially come off the bench if he returned to the Lakers, depending on the other signings and offseason additions the team makes, he also started 37 games for the Lakers last year.
Although money will be a real issue for the Lakers.
They will only be able to offer Monk the $6.3 million taxpayer mid-level exception, with all kinds of rumors circulating that Kyrie Irving wants to reunite with LeBron James in Los Angeles. The only realistic path for that happening, however, is Irving taking a massive pay cut and signing the taxpayer mid-level.
On the other hand, the Lakers could prioritize other needs on the roster with that exception.
If the Lakers save it for Monk, however, the danger is another team offering both a bigger role and more money than L.A. can provide. Bringing Monk back would make sense for the Lakers, but retaining him may not be realistic if a serious market emerges for his services.