Desire for continued Monk-Kings union a ‘no-brainer' to Brown, McNair

Desire for continued Monk-Kings union a ‘no-brainer' to Brown, McNair originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SACRAMENTO – One of the biggest decisions facing the Kings this offseason is whether to bring back Malik Monk, and if so, at what cost.

The first half of that equation is, to paraphrase Sacramento coach Mike Brown, a no-brainer.

The 26-year-old shooting guard had a fantastic 2023-24 NBA season while coming off the bench in his second year with the Kings. Monk averaged 13.4 points and a career-best 5.1 assists while clocking 26 minutes per night as Sacramento’s most used and valued reserve.

Monk’s year ended in frustrating fashion, as he spent the final nine regular-season games dealing with a right knee injury that also prevented him from taking part in Sacramento’s NBA’s Play-In Tournament loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Monk, who was a finalist for the Sixth Man of the Year award, finished second in voting behind Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid, the league announced Wednesday.

For all those reasons, and many more, the Kings plan to do whatever they can to convince Monk to stick around.

“He’s obviously been a huge part of what we’ve done the last couple of years,” Kings general manager Monte McNair told reporters at Golden 1 Center on Wednesday. “Sadly missed him at some key points down the stretch. Not just what he does on the floor but off the floor. Just his attitude and mentality and obviously his swag and everything all that Malik brings. We’ll have those conversations when the time comes but what he’s done for us (is) a huge part of our resurgence the last two years.”

Monk earned $9.9 million during the 2023-24 season and is almost certain to get more on the open market, where he’ll be one of the top free agents available.

The Kings are limited in what they can offer Monk, compared to other teams. The most Sacramento can offer him as a starting salary is $17.4 million. Over the life of a four-year contract, with maximum allowable raises, the most he can receive to stay is just under $78 million.

That will give Monk plenty of leverage in negotiations both with the Kings and other potential suitors.

Monk has previously stated a desire to remain with Sacramento but he fully plans to test the free-agent waters to see what opportunities are out there for him.

“I don’t know what to expect,” Monk said earlier this week. “It feels good knowing that going into the offseason you will have options because I didn’t have options before. It’s big because I can go somewhere else for a lot more money and be in a worse situation, so you never know. I think it’s going to play out the right way.”

For their part, the Kings are keeping their options open as well, although it’s clear that the intent is to have Monk back in town for another run.

“First of all, we love Malik and everybody knows that,” Kings coach Mike Brown said. “I truly believe Malik loves it here. The fans have done a fantastic job of showing him love and I think he really, really, really appreciates that. He’s got a great soul and he’s about as charismatic as they come. So no-brainer to have Malik back.”

To emphasize his point, Brown looked directly into the flock of cameras lined up in the Kings practice facility. “Malik, can you hear me?”