Jalen Brunson wants starter money as a free agent this summer, something in the four-year, $80 million range — and after his 41-point performance in the Mavs’ Game 2 win Monday, that number may have gone up.
Most likely, Brunson is back with the Mavericks playing next to Luka Doncic next season. However, if Dallas lowballs him or otherwise plays games with the point guard, other teams are ready to jump in and sign him. For example, the Indiana Pacers may have interest, Marc Stein said in his Monday Spotify Live chat (hat tip to Real GM):
The Indiana Pacers may have interest in free agent point guard Jalen Brunson. Brunson played for current Pacers coach Rick Carlisle when he coached the Dallas Mavericks.
There are a lot of teams that would love to get Brunson — who averaged 16.3 points and 4.8 assists a game, is a quality secondary ball-handler and can play off the ball as well — but there are limited teams with cap space that may want to pay him. For example, Knicks executives and star Julius Randle were courtside for the Mavericks’ first playoff game to show their interest in Brunson (as well as Utah’s Donovan Mitchell). But the Knicks don’t have cap space this summer, not enough to sign Brunson at the numbers he wants, so it would have to be a sign-and-trade. It’s unlikely, at best, the Mavericks would play along with that (unless the Knicks were willing to overpay).
Indiana is a more logical fit, especially if they move on from Malcolm Brogdon (which is rumored). A Brunson and Tyrese Haliburton backcourt would be interesting and dangerous, giving the Pacers a solid footing with Myles Turner up front and Buddy Hield knocking down shots on the wing.
Dallas just saw firsthand how much Brunson means to the franchise, it’s hard to imagine them letting him bolt. However, stranger things have happened, and if the Mavericks aren’t willing to pay the Pacers may step in and poach Brunson.