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Can the New York Knicks pry Jalen Brunson away from the Dallas Mavericks?

It’s been a long term love affair that the Knicks have had with the Mavs’ star guard, but with free agency looming, can they actually pull off a deal?

Can the New York Knicks pry Jalen Brunson away from the Dallas Mavericks?
Ron JenkinsAFP

With the Knicks having made no secret of their desire to see Brunson playing in the ‘Big Apple’ it shouldn’t come as any surprise that they are now seemingly preparing a mega offer to sign him from Dallas.

Knicks are preparing to move for Jalen Brunson

It was just a few weeks back when senior members of the Knicks franchise such as William Wesley and Julius Randle attended Dallas’ first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz. It didn’t take long for the speculation surrounding why they were - the assumption is to have a look at Brunson - to circulate. Then came what can be called phase two, as the Knicks proceeded to sign Brunson’s father, Rick Brunson to their coaching staff. Last but not least was what New York’s franchise did on Thursday gone during the NBA Draft. Indeed, the Knicks were able to pull off some smooth moves and were able to free up some $18 million in salary cap space.

As a result of that, what first seemed like a long shot is now increasingly becoming a likely trade that we will see in the coming days. According to Marc Stein that’s exactly what’s going to happen. “Sources say that New York’s ability during Thursday night’s NBA Draft to offload Kemba Walker’s $9.2 million salary for next season, coupled with a growing belief that it can shed further salary to expand its offer when the marketplace officially opens next Thursday, has established the Knicks as a very credible threat to bring Brunson to Gotham.”

Brunson’s family affair and the Mavericks’ stance

What’s most interesting about Bruson’s developing scenario is the effect that family has had on the whole affair. The Mavericks were in fact initially favored to re-sign Brunson, after all they are the ones who can understandably offer him the biggest payday with an extra fifth year on his deal. That, however, seems to be all they had in their corner. Stein went on to add that Bruson is “enticed” by the possibility of being given the role of play maker for the Knicks. Additionally there is also the fact that his family is now part of the Knicks’ structure itself. Not only is his father now an assistant coach, but Knicks president Leon Rose was actually his agent for a period of time and is looked upon like family.

Where the Mavericks themselves are concerned, it would appear for the moment that they are not terribly surprised nor are they worried. Dallas general manager Nico Harrison said after Thursday’s draft that the team doesn’t have a high level of concern when it comes to trying to cut a deal with their star. “I mean, we’re aware of [the Knicks clearing cap space] but we knew they would do that,” Harrison said. “We weren’t shocked that they did that. They tried to do it at the trade deadline. [We] don’t really have a concern level. It was expected.” Harrison went on to add that for the moment the team remains optimistic about their guard’s future. “Honestly, until he tells us he doesn’t want to be here, we’re optimistic,” Harrison said. “We haven’t heard otherwise, so we’re optimistic. We have to be.”

What will the Mavericks do?

If there is one thing that’s clear, it’s that if the situation comes down to a choice between a new path and money, it’s quite likely that the Mavericks will lose their man. Should that happen Dallas will be losing a player who did more than just cover for Luka Doncic when he was out injured in the early stages of the playoffs, he averaged 32 points, 5.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds to carry Dallas to a 2-1 series lead. It’s that fact that could well be the problem, as Brunson knows all too well that as long as Doncic is on the court, the Slovenian will be the primary ball handler and not him.

In the event that it does come to pass, the primary concern for Dallas will have to be ensuring that they don’t lose one of the best players for nothing. It goes without saying that the Mavs can’t financially cover a direct replacement for Brunson, which means they will likely have to look to add depth in other areas of the court - something Stein also reports is their intention should the cookie crumble that way. For the moment all we can do is wait and see what happens when free agency starts on Thursday coming, but expect this one to have a twist or two before it’s finalized.


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