Leon Rose and the Knicks are on the clock again. This time they intend to walk away with an impact player.
A week after trading the first round of the NBA draft with that very night in mind, the Knicks would be in the driver’s seat to land Mavericks free play point guard Jalen Brunson.
But Brunson will meet with other teams before making a decision, Yahoo Sports reported. The 25-year-old former Villanova star will meet the Knicks, Mavericks and Heat starting Thursday at 6 p.m. when free agency begins.
Brunson has many ties to the Knicks – team president Rose is his former agent, Rose’s son Sam is his current agent, he has a strong relationship with coach Tom Thibodeau and guard Derrick Rose, his father, Rick, was recently hired to join Thibodeau’s team. personal and he grew up in southern New Jersey — and he’s been their focus for quite some time. They cleared over $30 million in cap space to offer him a four-year contract worth over $100 million. They traded veterans Kemba Walker, Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks, as well as the No. 11 pick in the 2022 draft.
On Tuesday, a number of reports described the Knicks as heavy favorites to sign Brunson. Dallas, ESPN reported, was only willing to offer Brunson a five-year contract in the ballpark of the four-year, $85 million deal Raptors guard Fred VanVleet signed in 2020. Brunson declined. a four-year, $55.5 million contract from Dallas after the trade deadline.
A source close to Brunson thinks unless the Mavericks take a different stance on what they’re willing to offer and increase the money per year, he’ll be a Knick.
“It would be hard to refuse,” the source said.
The Heat, meanwhile, would need the Mavericks to accept a signing and trade to complete a deal, as they don’t have enough cap space to pay Brunson anywhere near what the other two franchises could pay him. .
There’s a school of thought that the Knicks are paying too much for Brunson, a player who just became a full-time starter for the Mavericks in December. They had to move several draft picks (including the No. 11 overall pick this year) and veteran players to create enough cap space to afford it. A former second-round pick, Brunson averaged 11.9 points, 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds in 24.7 minutes while shooting 37.3% from 3-point range during his career from five years in the NBA.
“It will make them more competitive, but it won’t make them a serious contender,” a league source said. “He’s a very talented player. What is he turning the Knicks into? They’re probably advancing past the play-in. Do they win a set? I don’t know.
“I don’t think what they have in place now – him, Julius [Randle] and RJ [Barrett] as your top three – going to move into the top echelon of the Eastern Conference.
Brunson is just 25 and coming off his best season by far, in which he recorded career highs in points (16.3), assists (4.8), rebounds (3.9) and minutes (31.9). Brunson was terrific in the playoffs, helping the Mavericks reach the Western Conference Finals by posting 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He showed his potential when superstar Luka Doncic suffered an injury in the first round, producing games of 41 and 31 points in wins over the Jazz.
Former Knick and current Mavericks wing Reggie Bullock took to Twitter to support Brunson’s big payday.
“JB deserves everything that comes his way, real hard worker and definitely LIKE DAT,” he tweeted along with bag and dollar sign emojis. “AND A BETTER PERSON OFF THE PITCH.”
The Knicks still have 11 first-round picks over the next seven years and have managed to keep all of their young players. Those strengths could get them in for a big trade, though they missed Spurs All-Star guard Dejounte Murray, who was reportedly dealt to the Hawks on Wednesday for a package centered on three first-round picks.
If Brunson does choose the Knicks, he would potentially fill a decades-long void at point guard for the franchise that used Burks out of position there last year due to injuries to Derrick Rose and Walker.
Since 2009, the Knicks have had 12 different starting point guards on opening night. Only Raymond Felton, in 2010 and 2012, started at the position more than once in the opener during this sequence. The list includes mates such as Felton, Trey Burke, Ramon Sessions, Chris Duhon and Jose Calderon.
Brunson, at least on paper, would be the Knicks’ best running general since Derek Harper in the mid-1990s. Brunson is in his prime and is coming off his best season as a pro. He would join franchise kingpin Barrett to form a young 1-2 backcourt duo that could get the Knicks back in playoff contention.
But first, the Knicks need to sign him.
Brunson was the reason they came out of the first round of the draft empty-handed last week. This, the Knicks hope, will be the fruit of a busy week of moves.