Malik Monk gives love to Sacramento with free agency looming

Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings
Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

The Kings did it again. They faced an incredibly short-handed Memphis Grizzlies team with only eight available players and only two of their regular starters but could not separate themselves. 

No one in the NBA should take the Grizzlies lightly. They battle until the last second of every game and never not play hard. That is not something we have been able to say about the Kings this season. 

What we saw last night has happened several times before. Short-handed teams at the bottom of the league are the Kings’ biggest weakness, but, at least this time, the Kings escaped with the 121-111 win in overtime. 

De’Aaron Fox won the first-ever Clutch Player of the Year award last season but this year it has been Malik Monk carrying the team over the finish line. Finishing the game with 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, Monk put together a respectable stat line but saved the best for last. 

12 of his 28 points came in overtime. The Kings scored 16 as a team. Monk was incredible, and it wasn’t the first time we have seen him put the team on his back in overtime. Earlier in the season, he secured overtime wins against the Lakers and the Timberwolves, for example, proving how crucial he is to this Kings’ team. After last night’s game, he ranks third in the league in points scored in overtime with 40. 

Where would Sacramento be without Monk’s heroics? Maybe not in sixth place in an incredibly competitive Western Conference. At the same time, however, where would Monk be without the Kings? The 26-year-old has been playing the best basketball of his career in Sacramento, completely reshaping his identity as an NBA player after initial struggles in Charlotte. 

Monk is grateful to be a King

Monk is very much aware of this. With the Kings he has gotten a chance to grow as a playmaker, have big moments as a scorer, and compete for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Plus, the fanbase loves him, and his upcoming free agency is worrying many of us. 

Monk has earned a serious pay raise  and will have other suitors in free agency. The Orlando Magic, for example, have plenty of cap space and a potential starting spot available. In the end, it will all come down to what Monk values more: money and a starting spot, or an established role on a team where he has great relationships with several players and coaches, can compete in the postseason, and is adored by the fanbase. 

Until he has signed his new deal, nothing about his NBA future is set in stone, and no one could really blame him for chasing more money. We can’t miss the love Monk has for Sacramento and his team, however, and that is incredibly encouraging. 

“I’m just thankful they gave me the opportunity,” he said about the organization after last night’s game when asked about the chance to display his full skill set in a Kings uniform. 

Ideally, that love will translate to a new contract to keep the Kings’ core together. At this point, Monk has become incredibly difficult to replace.