The Knicks are in the market for a point guard this offseason and it’s no secret that the Mavericks’ Jalen Brunson is at the top of their list.
However, getting Brunson will be difficult. First, the Mavericks want to keep him and he reportedly is happy there (so don’t bet on a sign-and-trade). Second, there is the money issue: Brunson was expected to get a new contract in the four-year, $80 million range before the playoffs started, but his performance in the first round with Luka Doncic out — and in Game 3 against the Suns — likely upped that price a little. The Knicks don’t have that much cap space but can create it fairly easily — waive Taj Gibson, trade Nerlens Noel into some team’s cap space for picks — but as the price goes up that requires more moves and gets more complicated. Reality is Brunson most likely stays in Dallas.
What’s the Knicks’ backup plan? Current Grizzlies reserve guard Tyus Jones, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.
Memphis backup point guard Tyus Jones, who played three seasons for Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota, is weaving a career year and is on the Knicks’ radar, according to an NBA source…
League sources said Jones could command the full non-taxpayer $10.2 million mid-level exception — which the Knicks possess as they don’t have cap space.
Jones averaged 8.7 points and dished out 4.4 assists a game, but the counting stats don’t do him justice — he was a key reason the Grizzlies went 20-5 with Ja Morant in street clothes this season. Jones doesn’t turn the ball over, can shoot the 3 (39%) and can defend — he is the glue of the Grizzlies’ second unit. He’s the kind of player the Knicks need next to RJ Barrett.
The Grizzlies realize his value, which is why they may offer more than the mid-level exception to keep him, and if they do are the Knicks going to start making the salary shedding moves they would make for Brunson to land Jones? Probably not.
The Knicks may need a third, stop-gap option, such as Dennis Schroder. After that, things get pretty slim. Do the Knicks really want to bet on John Wall if he gets bought out? There may be other point guards who become available on the trade market, but the asking price could be steep.
Jones would be a good fit in New York, the question is will he leave an up-and-coming Memphis team that clearly loves playing together? The Knicks should at least try and find out.