Lakers may have unexpectedly found their new Malik Monk in free agency

The Los Angeles Lakers are in the market for an upgrade along the wings. The new Malik Monk may have just arrived on the open market.
Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks
Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are navigating the 2024 NBA offseason with a clear desire to improve in key areas of weakness. Few flaws are as significant in Los Angeles' rotation as the inability to generate consistent offense from beyond the arc.

Thankfully for the Lakers, the opportunity may have presented itself for one of the biggest steals of the offseason to end up in purple and gold.

Los Angeles finished the 2023-24 season at No. 24 in three-point field goals made and No. 28 in attempts. Much of this was due to coaching philosophy, but there's a clear effort under head coach JJ Redick to improve in that area of the game—and help could be on the way.

According to Michael Grange of Sportsnet, Toronto Raptors swingman Gary Trent Jr. has seen a precipitous drop in market value and could now make less than the mid-level exception in 2024-25.

"There is real doubt that Trent Jr. will even be offered a deal for the mid-level exception — by definition the NBA’s average salary amount and which starts at $12.5 million for the 2024-25 season."

In the event that Trent signs with the Lakers, he could follow in the footsteps of Malik Monk—a mutually beneficial arrangement for the player and the organization.

Gary Trent Jr. could sign with the Lakers in a Malik Monk situation

The mid-level exception starts at $12.822 million for the 2024-25 season, but it's still a stunning development to see Trent potentially fall below that range. It's also a similar situation to when Monk signed with the Lakers in 2021.

For those unfamiliar, Monk was shockingly undervalued on the open market when he became a free agent and ultimately signed with Los Angeles on a one-year prove-it deal worth less than $1.8 million.

Monk turned his one-year stint with the Lakers into an opportunity to earn more money the very next summer. He averaged 13.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.3 three-point field goals made per game on .473/.391/.795 shooting, and signed a two-year, $19.4 million contract in 2022 with the Sacramento Kings.

Early in the 2024 period of free agency, the gamble that Monk took on himself by signing with the Lakers officially paid off when he re-signed with the Kings at four years and nearly $78 million.

Trent could experience a similar level of long-term success by signing with the Lakers this summer. He has all of the makings of a crucial free agency acquisition and could go a long way toward repairing his image by thriving in Los Angeles.

At 6'5" and 204 pounds with a 6'9" wingspan, an excellent outside shot, and flashes of defensive brilliance, Trent fits the mold of the 3-and-D player that Los Angeles is eager to find.

This past season, Trent averaged 13.7 points, 2.6 rebouds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals, and 2.5 three-point field goals made in 28.1 minutes per game. Toronto progressively limited his role by acquiring the likes of RJ Barrett, Bruce Brown Jr., and Immanuel Quickley, but he responded well to adversity.

Over his final 16 appearances during the 2023-24 season, Trent averaged 20.8 points per game—and improved his quality and intensity on defense. Unfortunately, the rest of the NBA seems to believe that Trent is no longer worth the type of money that he was expected to get this summer.

By signing with the Lakers, Trent could follow in Monk's footsteps by thriving in Los Angeles and improving his market value for the summer of 2025—a win-win for both teams.