Malik Monk

Monk addresses possibility of early Kings return from MCL injury

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The Kings have accepted they'll begin their potential NBA playoff run without Malik Monk, but could the treasured sixth man return from an MCL injury sooner than expected?

Don't count it out, according to a conversation Monk recently had with Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee -- but also, don't necessarily count on it.

On Thursday, Biderman asked Monk, who is traveling with Sacramento, about a remark made by Kings broadcaster Mark Jones on ESPN during Wednesday's Boston Celtics-Oklahoma City Thunder game. Jones said Monk is pressing to return even earlier than the four-to-six week timeline originally reported by ESPN, per Biderman.

“I really can’t tell you that, being so early with the injury,” Monk told Biderman. “But it’s feeling good. That’s what I can say.”

Monk also told Biderman he feels "great," and "better than expected" after suffering a right MCL sprain in the first quarter of Sacramento's 107-103 loss to the Dallas Mavericks last Friday following a collision with Luka Dončić.

With the four-to-six week timeline reported by ESPN, Monk likely will miss the first round of the NBA playoffs should the Kings make it, and could return as soon as the Western Conference semifinals in the first week of May.

Sacramento currently holds the West's No. 8 seed and a potential NBA play-in tournament berth following its 120-109 loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. The play-in begins April 16 and runs through the 19 -- just under four weeks from the day Monk was injured.

“I’m not the trainer. I just listen to them. They push it a little bit. It hurt sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s just the rehab process, I think," Monk told Biderman, noting he hasn't chosen a date for him potential return from the injury.

“If I do that then I have expectations. I don’t want to go into nothing with expectations."

Monk has emerged as one of the Kings' most essential players, helping them return to the NBA playoffs last season and now playing a critical role in their push for the postseason this year. Before he left last Friday's loss, Monk was averaging 15.4 points in 26.0 minutes per game during the 2023-24 NBA season, and it remains unclear when he could return.

The Kings certainly need him back if they want to keep their NBA championship hopes alive, but a fully healthy Monk back in the rotation is key -- and rushing back too soon could be a detriment to the team.

It's clear Monk is playing it smart, and taking his injury day by day.

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