What has heavily been reported for the past three days is now official. Jalen Brunson will sign with the New York Knicks for a four-year, $104 million contract per ESPN.
This contract says multiple things: 1) Knicks believe they are a point guard away from playoff contention 2) Brunson believe there’s more to his game outside of the Dončić-led offense, and 3) the Mavericks mistakenly underestimated his value and whiffed at the opportunity to sign him for almost half the price.
Mavericks top brass remained consistent that their top priority was to sign Brunson and had strong belief Brunson felt the same. When it was reported that Brunson chose to sign with the Knicks, it was reported that Brunson cancelled his planned meeting with the Mavericks because he had already made his decision. To be fair, the Mavericks had their opportunity to sign Brunson last offseason at a cheaper price worth four-year, $55 million. Meanwhile, the Knicks courting process can be dated to the postseason when multiple Knicks staff attended a Mavericks playoff home game.
In early June, Rick Brunson, Jalen’s dad, joined the Knicks as an assistant coach. It will be his third stint on a Tom Thibodeau led staff. On draft night, the Knicks created cap space by offloading salaries (and infuriated Knicks fans in the process) with the intent of offering Brunson a lucrative contract. Knicks President Leon Rose is the godfather to Jalen Brunson and his son Sam Rose represents the 25-year-old point guard. Family connections, a bigger contract, and a bigger role in the offense was something the Knicks offered that the Mavericks wouldn’t match.
Brunson upped his worth based on his breakout season that saw an increase across the board. His 16.3 pts, 4.8 ast, 3.9 rebounds made him Dončić’s co-star and the Mavericks second best player. The Knicks are banking on Brunson’s postseason point splurge which he averaged 21.6 to push them in the playoff tier. Brunson-led offense helped the Mavs stay afloat and competitive in the first round with an injured Luka Dončić sidelined.
His footwork and crafty spin moves in the playoffs gave the Mavs another option in a Dončić-centered offense. Brunson’s midrange and rim attack were one of the better counterattacks against defenses in the playoffs. Being one of the few Mavericks who could create his own shot and for others proved valuable to their surprising trip to the Western Conference Finals.
The Mavericks not only lose their 2021-2022 second-leading scorer, but they also lose another floor general who sped up the pace and kept the offense moving when Dončić was on the bench. It’s expected that Spencer Dinwiddie and others will share an increase in ball-handling duties. The Mavericks will explore in free agency to acquire another playmaker to add to their bench and who could seamlessly fit alongside Dončić, * cue the Goran Dragić possibilities*.
In light of this, the collective sentiment among Mavs nation is that Brunson, a good but not great, is not worth the All-Star type of contract. His size limitation is a liability against taller guards, and that his reluctancy to consistently shoot beyond the arc, shrinks the floor.
The Knicks are banking on Brunson to be their answer at the most important position in basketball while the Mavericks already have theirs in Dončić.