Has Malik Monk played his final game with the Sacramento Kings?

Sacramento Kings v Washington Wizards
Sacramento Kings v Washington Wizards / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

Malik Monk has blossomed in Sacramento. As the team’s sixth man, he grew immensely as a playmaker and showed his true talent as a three-level scorer. Without Monk, the Kings would not have gone to the playoffs last season or secured a winning record this year. 

He is easily one of the team’s best players, their third “star”, and most of us would like the core of him, De’Aaron Fox, Keegan Murray, and Domantas Sabonis leading this Kings team for as long as possible. 

Fox, Murray, and Sabonis are all under contract through the 2025-26 season. Monk, on the other hand, will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer and has a huge decision to make. He could either stay with the Kings or chase more money and sign with another team. After putting together a season worthy of Sixth Man of the Year honors, he will have other suitors than just the Kings.

Now, that season unfortunately seems to be over. Not long after news came out that Kevin Huerter would undergo season-ending surgery on his shoulder, Monk went down as well. Just about one minute into his first stint of the rematch against Dallas, he collided with Luka Doncic and suffered an MCL sprain. 

This injury is a huge blow to the Kings’ playoff chances, but it also has implications for the team’s offseason. 

Has Monk just played his final game in a Kings uniform?

Monk has spoken about his upcoming free agency before. In a recent interview with The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, Monk revealed how much he loved it in Sacramento. Not only did he revive his NBA career with the Kings, but he also got to play with his college friend and quickly became a fan favorite. 

He said he'd love to be back in Sacramento, but he also said the team’s postseason success would factor into his decision. Monk wants to compete and play on the big stage. The Kings took the first step last season, and this year was supposed to bring another playoff run. By now, that seems more unlikely with every game. 

After losing two games against the Dallas Mavericks, the Kings are stuck in eighth place in an incredibly competitive Western Conference. The other three play-in teams are currently the Suns, the Lakers, and the Warriors, meaning that the Kings will have to face Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, or Stephen Curry in a single elimination game.

That sounds like a nightmare, especially with two key players sidelined. The only team out of that group the Kings have consistently beat this season are the Lakers. Monk is currently expected to miss four to six weeks, which includes the rest of the regular season. With him and Kevin Huerter out for that stretch and Trey Lyles just returning from a serious injury at best, it is incredibly unlikely that the Kings will get to sixth and out of the Play-In Tournament. 

So, if the Kings don’t make the playoffs right away and have a good chance of losing in the play-in, Monk might be less inclined to return in free agency. There are teams out there who have the cap space to offer Monk much more than the Kings can if they really want to. Out of that group, the Orlando Magic should really worry Kings fans. They have money, an incredibly good young core, and the promise of long-term playoff success. 

Until he has signed a new deal, nothing is set in stone, but, if the Kings cannot make it to the playoffs, Malik Monk might truly just have played his final game for Sacramento. 

For the Kings, that would be close to catastrophic. He has been the team’s engine, and heartbeat all season long and there are not many affordable players out there who can replicate what he brings to the court.