The Jalen Brunson Sweepstakes got off to a more confident Mavericks start.
Shortly after his team was eliminated in the Western Conference Finals, owner Mark Cuban said that Brunson, a free agent this summer, “wants to stay” and noted Dallas holds a financial advantage.
“We can pay him more than anyone,” Cuban told NBA writer Mark Stein. “And I think he wants to stay and that’s what’s most important.”
According to sources, The Knicks plan to pursue Brunson in free agency, but can’t overtake the Mavericks, who hold the 25-year-old bird rights and can offer the maximum. The Knicks, which have been limited as a build, will either need to be in place through a trade or the Mavericks will need to cooperate with a sign-and-trade.
Dallas has reportedly expressed reluctance to facilitate a sign-and-trade with the Knicks, but changes minds when faced with losing a player for nothing. According to league sources, the Mavericks are interested in Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, who is also an unrestricted free agent, this summer. The Pistons are a wild card as they have the most cap space and are expected to sign Brunson and Robinson.
Brunson blossomed this season and impressed further in the post season, where he helped lead the Mavericks to series wins over the Jazz and Sons. Even before his revelatory playoffs, league sources believed that Brunson could earn a salary of $20 million per year in free agency. The Knicks have a hole on the point guard and can offer Brunson the ball, which he only enjoys part-time in Dallas next to Luka Doncic.
Brunson has several ties with the Knicks, most notably his father, Rick, who was an NBA client of Leon Rose and served as an assistant under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago and Minnesota.
Rose’s son, Sam, now represents Brunson as his agent.
Still, Rick clarified that this is a business decision, not a personal one.
“I’ve made it very clear to Leon, ‘I love you to death. Your son works for Jalen, represents Jalen, but it’s about Jalen,'” Rick Brunson told ESPN. “One thing about Leon is that he knows. He raised Jalen in the same way.
“It’s about what’s best for Jalen. Leon will never talk to me again. The question I have is, is this a good fit in New York? We don’t know, because we have to sit down and figure it out.” [and evaluate the] draft. July 1 is too far.”
Much of this will also be determined by Cuba’s appetite for bigger bills and its ability to bolster the roster without much flexibility. The Mavericks have already committed about $85 million for their backcourt next season between Doncic, Spencer Dinwiddie, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Reggie Bullock.
By all accounts, Brunson enjoys playing under Dallas coach Jason Kidd, Hall of Famer who was Thibodeau’s runner-up for the Knicks job in 2020. But, as always, money will rule the negotiations.
“We have to find out if Dallas wants him. No words,” Rick Brunson told ESPN. “There are no exemptions. So don’t put it on us. Don’t tell me that you love me. show me.”
If the Knicks miss Brunson, their options at point guard include exploring the trading market (Donovan Mitchell, Malcolm Brogdon), signing a lesser free agent (Tyce Jones, Ricky Rubio) or the current crop (Derrick Rose, Emmanuel). Quickly). , Alec Burks).