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The Key Reasons Why Charlotte Let Malik Monk Leave

After Malik Monk’s 32 points for the Kings against the Warriors in game one of the Western Conference playoffs, many Hornets fans were asking the question “Why did Charlotte let Malik Monk go?”. Let’s revisit four key reasons that led to Monk being left to walk away as an unrestricted free agent in 2021.


This label still follows Monk to some extent today, he’s always going to be a hot or cold microwave scorer, but he was more “Off” than “On” during his time in Charlotte. Monk mightily struggled on both ends when given the opportunity, low shooting percentages, a high turnover rate, high foul rates and consistently poor defense, these were all regular occurrences in Monk’s first 3 years in Charlotte. His 4th and final year was by far his best, but he was limited to just 42 games. How do you weigh up a forgetful three years vs a small part-season sample size in a contract year?

Everyone saw the flashes during Monk’s tenure, 36 points against Miami, a game winner against the Kings, but whenever you looked at the full season of work it wasn’t pretty reading. His three-point shooting is a good example of his struggles, in his four years in Charlotte he shot 36%, 34%, 29% and 42% from three. His major selling point as a draft prospect was borderline a weakness for three years, even for the year he shot it well his rim percentage dropped from 67% to 54%, it was like an NBA version of whack-a-mole, when one weakness went another one appeared.


Monk had a knack for bad timing, just when you thought he was beginning to find some rhythm he would end up being unavailable for a large period of time. Whether it was a suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-doping policy (27 games in 20-21), COVID-19 (Training camp + 10 games) or an ankle sprain (30 games in 21-22), something always seemed to block his path to establishing himself as a core piece.


Malik Monk has been honest reflecting on his early years in the league, he told Rick Bonnell (RIP) “I went to Kentucky, and I still wasn’t ready for the NBA… I really had to grow up and be a man about everything: Look at myself in the mirror and say "Do what you’re supposed to be doing”.

Reading between the lines in press conferences you didn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to decipher that monk had some work to do to earn the trust of his teammates and coaches. The suspension in 20-21 re-emphasized Monk wasn’t leading the life a pro athlete should be if they want to give themselves the best chance for success and secure a contract extension.

2021 NBA Draft

Despite all the challenges outlined above, there was a 50/50 feeling on if Charlotte would retain Monk in the summer of 2021. He was coming off his best year in Charlotte before his season was derailed by an ankle injury, fans thought he might have finally turned a corner. However, when Charlotte selected James Bouknight with the 11th pick in the 2021 draft his fate was all but sealed.

Kupchak likely hoped Bouknight, who was a similar scoring guard like Monk could step into a similar role and production on a long term, cost controlled rookie contract. This clearly didn’t play out as planned, but in the moment several draft analysts and scouts would have made the same move.


It’s easy to look back now and say that letting Monk walk in free agency was a mistake, but Charlotte wasn’t the only one to doubt Monk’s abilities. Malik as a 22-year-old ex-lottery pick ended up signing a 1 year veteran minimum with the Lakers. Monk’s lack of interest as a free agent shows the concerns Kupchak and co had were shared by most of the league.

With hindsight it's clear letting Malik Monk go was a move Kupchak might want back. However, at the time there were clear reasons and rational to the decision which are hard to argue with. Credit to Monk, he turned his career around and proved everybody wrong, he’s now emerged into a 6th man role on a legitimate playoff team and continues to make Hornets fans drink from the always plentiful fountain of regret. 

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