Report: Kentucky Reunion? ‘Mutual Interest’ Between Monk, Kings originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
Can the Kings reunite the dynamic backcourt of Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox’s 2016-17 Kentucky Wildcats?
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said Wednesday night, citing sources, that there is mutual interest in Monk’s signing by the Kings, as the free agency officially begins at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Monk, who signed a minimum one-year veteran contract with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, posted career-best numbers in 2021-22 and is due for a raise. The highest he can sign with the Lakers is the team’s taxpayer center cut, valued at about $6.3 million.
At 24, the number 11 overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft could be looking for money.
“He is definitely looking for more, a little more”, Fischer reported on a Spotify Live chat with fellow reporter Mark Stein. “The numbers I’ve heard are between $8 million and $12 million, which puts taxpayers at $6 million.
“The only team I heard — I’m not saying this is a foregone conclusion if it’s going to happen, it’s a very different situation from LA — but I’ve heard there’s mutual interest. The only team I’ve heard to watch out for him not to go to the Lakers is the Sacramento Kings.”
Sacramento has his estimated $10.3 million mid-level exception available and could throw all or part of it at Monk to lure him to Golden 1 Center.
In 76 games last season, his first with the Lakers, Monk averaged 13.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. At six feet and 200 pounds, Monk lacks a defensive presence – a huge need for the Kings – but he’s vastly improved as a three-point shooter. Monk ran out of 3s at a 32.2 percent clip in his first three seasons, but jumped to 40.1 percent and 39.1 percent in the last two campaigns.
Even after drafting the efficient Keegan Murray 4 pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, the offseason remains a need for Sacramento.
Fox and Monk spent their only collegiate seasons together in Kentucky, starring as coach John Calipari’s backcourt. That season, Kentucky went 32-6 and advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to North Carolina. Monk was Kentucky’s leading scorer with an average of 19.8 points per game and Fox was second on the team with 16.7 points per game.
That duo would no doubt refill the highlights if they were reunited in Sacramento.