Malik Monk

Kings star Fox shares latest from Monk as NBA free agency looms

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Like the rest of us, Kings star point guard De'Aaron Fox has no clue what will happen when Malik Monk enters NBA free agency in just over a week.

One thing that remains, however, is Fox's excitement for his friend who he's had the opportunity to call his NBA teammate for the past two seasons.

"Yeah, definitely. I've never hit free agency before and this is technically his second time hitting free agency," Fox said at Day 3 of his basketball camp in Rocklin, Calif (h/t Sactown Sports 1140). "Seeing the player he was when we signed him to the player he- I mean, I wouldn't even say he's become much of a different player. He was able to showcase more of what he could do.

"But him being able to be in this situation and obviously having multiple teams that are trying to come after him, I'm definitely happy for him. Obviously, we want him to stay but at the end of the day, he has to do what's best for him."

Monk earned $9.9 million during the 2023-24 season and likely will get more in the open market, where he’ll be one of the top free agents available.

Sacramento is limited in what it can offer Monk, with the most being a starting salary of $17.4 million, which would be a four-year, $77.9 million max long-term deal if extended without maximum allowable raises.

But a team with more salary-cap space could offer the 26-year-old a similar-length deal in the $100 million range -- a payday that easily would be the biggest of Monk's up-and-down NBA career.

Still, Fox, despite his close relationship with Monk dating back to their time at Kentucky, prefers to keep the business side of the sport out of their friendship.

"No. I don't know," Fox said when asked if he had an idea of how things will play out. "I don't really ask him. Funny enough we saw him Monday and I'm not sure. We're friends first and that side is that side. I don't really ask him about it. I ask him where he's been on vacation and where's Fresh, how's your mom doing, how's your brother, how's your nephew?

"I'm not really asking him anything about free agency."

While there remains loads of uncertainty regarding Monk's future, it's perfectly clear that Monk is coming off the best seasons of his career with the Kings.

Some just tuning in might be late to the Malik Show, but Fox got flashbacks of their time together dominating the floor as Wildcats to six years later playing together in the pros with Sacramento.

And after it took some time -- and the right opportunity -- for Monk to find himself in the league, Fox knows the best is yet to come for his best friend.

"Definitely man. Malik's Malik. The same way [former Kentucky coach John Calipari] was with him was the way [Kings coach] Mike [Brown] was with him, giving him the freedom," Fox said. "Obviously, Malik has a big personality. Mike and Cal's approach to coaching Malik was very, very similar. And I think that's a big reason why he was successful.

"It's the NBA and a lot of guys are talented. A lot of guys can play. But at the end of the day, it's about roles. What's your role? Do you feel a role that the team needs? People always talk about guys not being in the NBA maybe because they couldn't fit a role. There are guys probably in Europe better than some guys in the NBA, but they couldn't fill out the role that the team needed them to fill. And us giving Malik that big of a role just allowed him to showcase more than he could when he was in the previous situations.

"A lot of people who watched Malik in college knew that he could put the ball in the basket but didn't know he could play-make. When he got in the league, he developed that, and when he was here, he was able to showcase that. His role got bigger and I think he was able to showcase more than he was able to in previous years."

Like the rest of the NBA world, Fox will have to play the waiting game when it comes to Monk and his future.

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