At 23 years old and entering his fifth NBA season, Malik Monk was not expected to play on a veteran minimum contract. While he wasn’t in line for a massive payday, it was assumed he was worth — at the very least — a mid-level exception. So when the Los Angeles Lakers picked Monk up at that minimum value, it was seen as a steal.
Monk has had some difficulties during the opening stage of his career. Inconsistency on the court and trouble off of it plagued his first three seasons. However, in his fourth year, he took off, averaging 11.7 points per game on just 20.9 minutes a night while shooting a career-high percentage from three — 40.1% — and became a relatively impactful defender.
As Monk made his signing with the Lakers official, he spoke about why he perhaps took below market value to sign in L.A. “The environment and this organization and all of the knowledge that I’ll learn,” Monk said. “Like I said before, how to be a pro, how to work, how to work smarter and just how to be a man too as well.
“I’m still learning and going through life too, I’m 23. So these guys have been doing it a lot longer and I can ask a lot of questions and I can learn not just from being on the basketball court, just being off the court too as well.”
Monk was suspended during the 2019-20 season because of an anti-drug policy violation. But he has shown strides of maturity since, and signing with a veteran team like the Lakers is sure to help him grow even more as a player and person.
As for what he can bring to the Lakers, he was also very candid about his improvements over the years. “I got better, I got better every year and that was my goal. Like you said, I never really got a consistent stretch where, I mean I got consistent stretches with minutes, but I never got a whole year with the same amount of minutes.
“So I just try to be the best I can in every little aspect that I got in the game. I think I bring a lot to the table here as well with a lot of greats here that we have, LeBron, AD, Russ, Carmelo, Dwight, everybody. I can feed off them and I think I can learn a lot from them. So I bring excitement, just like Westbrook to the game, plus shooting.”
For all the reasons Monk said, there is a chance that this becomes the best signing of the Lakers offseason. If he continues to show strides on defense while maintaining a 40% three-point figure, he could be one of the team’s most impactful players regardless of salary.
Given his skillset, Monk should be able to learn a lot from Russell Westbrook, Kent Bazemore and Wayne Ellington to really round out his game. If he can do this, there’s no reason he can’t be a starter or in the closing lineups when the games matter most.
Ellington didn’t need much to be convinced
Ellington is not at the same stage in his career as Monk, but both agreed that playing for the Lakers was the best thing for them. Ellington barely even needed to be convinced, as he was already leaning towards L.A. before he heard Rob Pelinka’s pitch.
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