Knicks reportedly very interested in Jalen Brunson, “They want him bad”

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Jalen Brunson has played his way into a massive pay raise this summer — and the Knicks would like to be the team that pays him.

Still looking for a long-term answer at point guard, the Knicks have a strong interest in Brunson, who will be a free agent this offseason. From Marc Berman at the New York Post.

The Mavericks still haven’t afforded former Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson a contract extension and he has made another leap this season. As The Post has reported multiple times, the Knicks have had Brunson on their radar….

With “T-Day’’ approaching in 3 ¹/₂ weeks, the Mavericks are certainly capable of moving Brunson before the 2018 second-round pick becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Knicks already contacted the Mavericks sometime in the past about Brunson, an NBA source said.

“They want him bad,’’ the NBA source said.

That contract extension will not happen because the former second-round pick has played his way into a larger and more lucrative deal.

Because Brunson is on a minimum contract, the most the Mavericks can offer in an extension is 120% of the estimated average NBA salary, which would mean a deal of four years, $55.6 million. Brunson is averaging 16 points a game and has proven his worth as a starter and secondary shot creator next to Luka Doncic. That means he will make starter money as a free agent, a contract likely in the four-year, $80 million range (and maybe higher).

Brunson will not sign an extension; he will become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He will have a lot of suitors then, and league sources tell NBC Sports the Mavs are fielding a lot of calls about him now.

The only reason Dallas would trade Brunson now is they don’t want to pay that going rate next offseason. Do coach Jason Kidd and GM Nico Harrison (and, let’s be honest, owner Mark Cuban) think they can do better finding a secondary ball handler this offseason? Are they sold on Brunson or want to move on — if it’s the latter, they should sell high and get out now.

But every indication is Dallas plans to re-sign Brunson, not trade him. If that changes, the Knicks are open for business. Otherwise, New York can make its play and try to sign him as a free agent next summer.