Malik Monk was playing the best basketball of his NBA career–and then he got suspended.
On Friday, the Charlotte Hornets third-year guard met with the media–virtually–for the first time since he was reinstated from his suspension earlier this year. Back in February, Monk was suspended indefinitely and without pay for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy, and was later reinstated in June.
“I did it. I took my consequences, I think I’m making up for it right now,” Monk told reporters. “I’m in a great space with my mind and my body right now.”
— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) September 25, 2020
The former Wildcat was on a tear on the court prior to his suspension, putting together the best stretch of basketball he’s played as a member of the Hornets. In the 13 games leading up the league’s decision, Monk averaged 17 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists while shooting 45.7 percent from the field, 35 percent from 3, and 85.1 percent from the free-throw line. He’ll come into next year fresher than he’s ever been before. Charlotte owes him $5.3 million for the 2020-21 season after they picked up the final year option on his rookie deal near the end of 2019.
One of the main takeaways from Monk’s media session was when he mentioned that he now weighs 210 pounds, up from the 195-200 pounds that he’s typically been listed as while in the NBA and at Kentucky. He also said that, during the hiatus, he’s been breaking down film with his brother over the phone almost every day. Monk even gave his fellow Wildcats a shoutout, saying he wasn’t surprised that so many former Kentucky players were performing so well inside the Orlando Bubble.
Malik Monk mentions that he’s not surprised by the Kentucky players doing well in Orlando. He says he just needs to step up next year to represent.
— Richie (@RichieRandall) September 25, 2020
The suspension cost Monk eight games of his 2019-20 season and over $200,000; each game missed cost him roughly $27,000. He could potentially become a free agent in the summer of 2021 if the Hornets decide not to extend him the $7.3 million qualifying offer and allow him to become an unrestricted free agent. Monk will have at least one more season of basketball to put himself in a position for a big pay raise. He still has the support of his organization.
“It takes a bunch of weight off my shoulders, because I know he [Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak] is rooting for me. That really relaxes me to go perform the way I can,” Monk said, according to Rick Bonnell. “But it also puts pressure on me because I’ve got to show him that I’m still working and I’m still one of the best talent-wise on this team.”
Monk still has plenty of potential left, he just has to continue to put himself in a position to fulfill it.