Once a player accepts a one-year minimum veteran contract, he is almost never given a larger contract.
Malik Monk is likely to become the exception to that rule.
Monk restored his image with the best season of his career next LeBron James with the Lakers last season — 13.8 points per game, 39.1% shooting from 3, and solid defense. In a season where so much went wrong for Los Angeles, Monk was one of the highlights (playing 76 games on a team that was plagued with injuries elsewhere).
Monk earned a raise, probably around the average exception of $10.4 million — the league’s average salary, which is about right for Monk. Except that the Lakers can’t provide that because of the minimum contract he signed in LA last season (after a year, the Lakers no longer have his Bird rights, and they don’t have the room to just sign him).
Monk told Jovan Buha of The Athletic he would take a discount to stay with the Lakers, perhaps the $6.4 million average tax amount that the Lakers do have to offer. Except, as Buha explains, even that may not be available.
[The exception is] also the Lakers’ only tool for improving in free agency, and they may have bigger needs, most notably a size 3-and-D wing that can complement James and Davis in the frontcourt, according to competition sources…
“Money always comes into play, man, but I don’t think it’s the top priority in my free agency this year,” Monk said. “I feel like I have a house and I can go out and do the same things that I did this year…
“They may not be able to pay me as much as I want,” he said. “But I could be here and feel a lot more comfortable as a Laker than going to any other team (that would pay me $5 million more). So it’s up to me to figure out which team would really want me. “
That $6.4 million exception could also be: how the Lakers land? Kyrie Irvingif he’s really willing to accept a $30 million pay cut next season (with anyone else that would be out of the question, with Irving… who knows?).
Monk is the first in what will be a parade of players this offseason who says, “It’s not about the money.” Except, it’s always about the money (again, with the exception of Irving). Not that he wouldn’t take a discount to return, but Monk has made $17.3 million in his career to date. Is he able to leave $5 million on the table?
The reality is that Monk has been so good that he has almost certainly played his way from the Lakers. The good news for Monk is that he needs to be able to choose from a few different teams competing for his services so he can find the best match for himself.
Here’s more about the Lakers’ off-season
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