CHARLOTTE — A dozen kids were in the midst of playing knockout at Camp Greene Park on one of its covered courts on a hazy Friday afternoon. Typically, this activity wouldn’t garner a mention, but second-year Hornets guard Malik Monk typically isn’t involved, either.
Monk was there with a local radio station, giving the kids shooting around one hell of a story to tell their fellow classmates when school starts up the following week. He officiates the game of knockout, at times running interference for the smaller kids in the group. If one of the older kids misses a shot, Monk might deflect the ball far away or, in one instance, take the ball and run. The game keeps going until the smallest kid on the court wins.
The same Malik Monk that closed the season for the Charlotte Hornets was visible during this game — he resembled a carefree and self-assured geyser of confidence. Monk closed the final five games of the season averaging 20 points and shooting 48 percent from the field, showing the promise that made the Kentucky product the 11th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
The Hornets let go of both GM Rich Cho and head coach Steve Clifford by the first day of the NBA offseason on the heels of back-to-back 36-win seasons. This led to plenty of unanswered question about the rising sophomore’s role going forward. In response, the 20-year-old Monk took a week off and then went to work.
“I lift Monday through Thursday,” Monk told Dime. “Get on the court Monday through Thursday, but Friday, I just lift. I mean, I work out every day.”
Outside of his vacation and a trip to Vegas Summer League, Monk has stationed himself in Charlotte for the summer. While there, he made a decision that set Charlotte sports Twitter ablaze: He get a puppy, a neo mastiff named Bear who might be the closest thing to a canine avatar of Monk himself, as it’s young but simultaneously wants to get into everything.