What does Jalen Brunson want?
Brunson is a free agent this July. He’s been the best No. 2 next to Luka Doncic that the Mavericks have had and they want to keep him, with owner Mark Cuban saying he would open up the checkbook and go into the luxury tax to keep Brunson in Dallas.
New York needs a point guard and has coveted Brunson. Thursday night during the NBA Draft, the Knicks frustrated their fans by making a series of moves that freed up some cap space to chase Brunson (rather than trading for a higher pick or drafting someone like Jalen Duren).
All of that makes the Knicks a real threat to poach Brunson out of Dallas, reports Marc Stein in his latest newsletter.
One source close to the process described that threat as “very, very, very real.” The Knicks are increasingly expected to assemble a four-year offer to Brunson valued in the $100 million range, sources said.
After Brunson’s strong playoffs, the Mavericks reportedly thought the price tag was closer to $90 million over four years, but Cuban and the Mavericks can match any offer or add a fifth year and beat the Knicks (plus, there are tax differences between playing in New York and Texas).
If the money ends up being in the same ballpark, it all comes back to our opening question: What does Brunson want? Brunson himself hasn’t said much publicly. Stein added this:
But further boosting New York’s chances is a growing belief among some close to the situation that Brunson wants this move to Madison Square Garden despite his considerable rise in prominence as a Maverick and Dallas’ ability to outbid the Knicks, enticed by the opportunity to become New York’s unquestioned lead guard on top of strong family ties.
Family ties as in the Knicks just hired Brunson’s father Rick as an assistant coach (Brunson had been on Tom Thibodeau’s staff in Minnesota and is experienced as an assistant).
In Dallas, the younger Brunson is in a comfortable and potentially title contending situation in the next few seasons, he knows his role and now will get paid a lot more to fulfill it. In New York, he has the ball in his hands as the clear lead, shot-creating guard (unless Kyrie Irving comes to town), a bigger role in a huge market but on a team looking to get into the playoffs, not contend for rings right now.
Brunson is a free agent, and it’s his call. It’s what he wants.
And maybe that is playing in Madison Square Garden.