Malik Monk has been one of the driving forces for the Sacramento Kings over the last couple of seasons. Not only was he instrumental in their 48-win season a year ago, helping break what was a 16-season playoff skid, but Monk has continued to elevate his game to new levels. Behind De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, Monk has embraced being the first man off the bench for the Kings, which will likely result in him taking home the 2023-24 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.

When he initially signed with the Kings in 2022, Monk agreed to a two-year deal. At the conclusion of the 2023-24 season, the 26-year-old guard will be a free agent. This has led to questions about what his future is looking like, especially since his services will be valued across the league.

Missing just one game to this point in the season, Monk has averaged a career-high 15.9 points per game while shooting 45.0 percent from the floor. He has come off the bench in all 66 games he has played in.

Last year, Monk was confident when discussing his future in Sacramento. Now, he once again seems to envision himself being next to Fox and Sabonis in Sacramento for the foreseeable future after previous stops in Charlotte and Los Angeles.

“Depends on what we do in the postseason, as well,” Monk told The Athletic's Anthony Slater. “But I’d love to be here, man. Got comfortable here. Made a lot of new friends, met a lot of great people. The city loves me. I love the city.”

How the Kings perform in the playoffs will certainly play a role in Monk's free agency decision. Whether or not he ends up claiming the Sixth Man of the Year award will also be impactful. At the end of the day, Monk wants to stay in Sacramento, and his coach also wants him to remain a focal point on their roster.

Mike Brown wants Monk long-term

 Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown talks to guard Malik Monk (0) during a free throw by the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at the Smoothie King Center.
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Kings head coach Mike Brown and Monk came to Sacramento together. Brown left the Golden State Warriors for the Kings in 2022, and Monk signed his two-year deal with the team after playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Since his arrival with the Kings, Monk has held a key sixth man role despite starting in 37 of 76 total games for the Lakers during the 2021-22 season.

“Hell no I don’t like it,” Monk said in regards to coming off the bench instead of starting, via The Athletic. “But, s**t, it’s what I got to do for us to win and play better. So I just take the role head on.”

Although he had some struggles with the Charlotte Hornets when he first came into the league, Monk has reinvented himself both as a scorer and as a professional. These last two seasons he's spent in Sacramento have been the best of his career, which is why the Kings and Brown don't want to see him go.

“He's extremely important to what we’re trying to build,” Brown stated. “There’s zero question in my head. We 100 percent want him back. He’s the player he is mainly because of him. But I also feel that you have to be in situations that can help get the most out of you. And I feel like this situation that he has here, the sky's the limit.

“We’re only going to get better and he has had a lot to do with the growth of this franchise.”

Whether or not the Kings can keep Monk around will depend on their cap situation. Fox, Sabonis, Kevin Huerter, and Harrison Barnes are all on the books for over $111 million in total next season, already putting the team at a high cap number. Based on Slater's projections, the potential max starting salary the Kings can give Monk next season would be about $17.4 million, which would be a four-year, $77.9 million max offer.

Is this good enough to keep Monk long-term, especially since he has a desire to remain in Sacramento? Everything may realistically come down to his status in the race for Sixth Man of the Year.

Malik Monk's Sixth Man of the Year campaign

Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk (0) reacts after the Kings defeated the San Antonio Spurs at the Golden 1 Center.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to averaging 15.9 points per game off the bench this season, Monk has recorded 1,050 total points. That leads all bench players in the NBA by a wide margin, as the next closest bench scorer is Milwaukee Bucks big man Bobby Portis with 882 total points this season.

From reinventing himself with the Lakers to now becoming the third-most important player on the Kings' roster, Monk has proven his worth in Sacramento. At this point, it would be shocking if Monk didn't come away with the Sixth Man of the Year award, given his contributions to the Kings' overall success. Last season, Monk finished fifth in the voting for the Sixth Man of the Year award.

Aside from his insane scoring numbers off the bench, Monk has also registered 353 total assists off the bench. The next closest player is TJ McConnell, with 282 total bench assists.

No matter how you look at it, Monk has been the most productive bench player in the league this season. The Kings are lucky to have him, and he remains one of their focal points as Sacramento prepares for their second straight playoff appearance.