The first domino of the 2022 NBA Free Agency period has fallen.
Free-agent guard Jalen Brunson, fresh off a breakout season with the Mavericks, intends to sign a four-year deal, near $110 million deal with the Knicks, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Thursday. Per league rules, Brunson, 25, cannot officially sign the deal until free agency opens at 6 p.m. ET. Thursday night.
Despite owning Brunson’s bird rights, Dallas did not receive the chance to counter New York’s offer, according to Charania. The Heat were also previously linked to Brunson, but it was reported earlier in the day that Miami was never scheduled to meet with the former second-round pick, opening the door even further for New York to swoop in.
New York’s well-documented pursuit of Brunson began to more traction since last Thursday’s NBA draft. The Knicks traded Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks to the Pistons that night in an effort to clear cap space to offer Brunson a max deal.
The famed franchise emerged as a frontrunner for Brunson’s services in the hours following the move, with reports suggesting his move to N.Y. was “widely anticipated” around the league. A native of nearby New Brunswick, N.J., Brunson is the son of 12-year NBA player Rick Brunson, who spent two and a half seasons with the Knicks and was hired to Tom Thibodeau’s staff as an assistant earlier this month.
While Brunson’s ties to the organization and area may have been enough proverbial writing on the wall for some, Thursday’s reported agreement means the Knicks have finally secured a long-term option at a position of need. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound point guard is an aggressive scorer and playmaker, and figures to be a solid fit next to R.J. Barrett in Thibodeau’s system.
Brunson, the 33rd overall pick in the 2018 draft, turned in a career year in 2021–22, and played a crucial role for the Mavericks alongside star Luka Dončić. Brunson started 61 of his 79 appearances, and averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists during the regular season.
After helping the Mavericks secure the West’s fourth seed, Brunson took his play to another level in the postseason, jumping out to a strong start against the Jazz with Dončić out due to injury. He averaged 32 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists in the three games Luka missed en route to Dallas’ 4–2 first-round series victory over Utah.
Brunson continued his impressive play throughout the club’s run to the Western Conference Finals, which ended in six games against the eventual champion Warriors. He ended the playoffs with averages of 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
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