March 26, 2019

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Malik Monk Can Score, but Can He Star?

Malik Monk Can Score, but Can He Star?
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Monk and Fox are on a group chat with a couple of other former teammates at Kentucky, Monk said, and they message one another all the time. Monk roots for Fox — “I tell him, ‘Keep killing, Fox,’ ” Monk said — but he cannot help noting the opportunity that Fox has gotten, and how much he has made of it.

“If you get down on yourself, that’s going to mess everything up,” Monk said. “So I just try to stay positive. You have to be patient, man. Patience.”

Borrego benched Monk for two games last month — the coach was frustrated with the team’s defense — but said on Tuesday that he was pleased with Monk’s progress.

“He’s just got to be more consistent on the defensive end,” Borrego said, “and we’re seeing that growth.”

Monk’s minutes, though, have been sporadic — much as they were last season under Steve Clifford, who now coaches the Orlando Magic — and he said he was learning to adapt. Everyone wants to start, he said, but maybe he was meant to come off the bench and develop into an elite scorer like Lou Williams or Jamal Crawford, two players who have turned their reserve roles into art forms. Or maybe, Monk said, his career will take a different turn.

“There are always teams watching,” Monk said. “So, I mean, if this is not your spot, it might be somewhere else, and there’s always somebody watching — and it’s probably somebody that likes you. So you’ve got to go out there and do stuff for you and for your team. If you do both of those things together, you’ll be all right.”

Asked if he was happy in Charlotte, Monk said: “I’m playing basketball. So, yeah, I’m learning, and I’m watching the best every night. If you’re not happy doing this, I don’t know why you came to the N.B.A. So me playing or not, I’m still going to learn, I’m still going to smile, and I’m still going to be who I am. So I’m glad I’m in this situation.”

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