In a season filled with disappointment, there was no place brighter for the Lakers than the hack campaign they got from owner Monk. A minimal contract signing that had very few suitors in a unique position after not extending the qualifying bid in Charlotte showed the Lakers true faith in Monk, and they’ve made more money than this season.
Monk has established himself as one of the few consistent contributors to the team in recent months, whether on the bench or in the starting lineup. It’s a win-win partnership, too, as the Lakers needed to produce Monk and revitalized his image around the league with his performances this season, all while becoming a fan favorite in the process.
One of the immediate thoughts from fans seeing Monk excel is how the Lakers can sustain him for the long term. The short answer to that is that it will take a fair amount of financial sacrifice from Monk next season. But in a piece of Jovan Poha the athletethe owner’s agent (and brother) Marcus talked about their expectations for the future and where the Lakers fit in, all while hinting that Monk might be willing to try to make financial gymnastics work.
“It seems the outside world is talking about her more than it does,” Marcus said. “He never mentioned it. Like, the dude just wants to win Los Angeles Lakers games now. And he’s focused on doing what he has to do to be on that floor and win those games. …
“He’s so grateful for what the Lakers have done and what they’re doing. He works for the Los Angeles Lakers. To think of anything beyond that and try to help this team win, it wouldn’t be fair for them to believe in him. So I don’t even have those conversations with him. …
“Now, it’s Laker. Hopefully it’s Laker forever.”
These are not the words of an agent trying to maintain any negotiating power of an impending free agency. But not all players have the same priorities when it comes to free agency and Malik may not necessarily be in maximizing the amount of money he can earn, the landing spot is damned.
In fact, an owner may know more than anything how important it is to find the right team, system, and franchise. After toiling in Charlotte, Malik landed in Los Angeles and looked like the lottery pick he once had while realizing the potential he didn’t with the Hornets.
In the same piece, Malik himself said he’d rather stay in Southern California in purple and gold:
“I would be lying if I said I don’t look into my future with anything,” Monk said. “Love it here. I’d love to play here again man. But you never know what’s going to happen with the NBA. You never know what’s going on. It’s business, at the end of the day. But I definitely love playing here.”
“But I don’t know. It’s hard to call the future.”
Given the nature of the CBA and the Lakers, with Monk only under contract on a minimum of veterans this season, the amount of what the Lakers can offer Monk is very limited, especially if they want to avoid a tough cap, and they will. The most likely solution is for the Lakers to sign a one-year contract with Monk using the mid-level exemption for taxpayers, which comes in at roughly $6.2 million.
After that season, the team will own Monk’s full bird rights, and will have much more flexibility in the length and size of the contract that can be offered, making it more feasible for him to stay long-term and on a fairer deal, but he must be willing to take less short term. For more details on how the Lakers managed to keep it, check out Eric Pincus’s article for Bleacher Report on the matter.
But these are problems for months now. Instead, Monk, the Lakers, and fans should be enjoying the young goalkeeper’s breakthrough campaign this season and hope he can provide enough for the Lakers to score in the post-season this spring.
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