Rumors are rampant that the Knicks will pursue Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson in free agency — which would fill a gaping hole in the Knicks roster and add All-Star caliber talent to the roster at MSG.
Brunson, 25, became a breakout sensation at the end of this year’s NBA season, averaging 24.1 points in 26 minutes per game thus far in the playoffs.
The team beat the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs in a 4–2 series, and currently trail the Phoenix Suns 2–1 in the second round, with Game 4 slated for Sunday afternoon.
Regardless of the Mavericks’ coming playoff success, Brunson has solidified himself as a top-tier free agent target for any franchise looking to upgrade at their ball handling position.
At 6′ 1″ from Villanova University, the two-time college national champion entered the NBA as an early-second-round pick to the Mavs in 2018, and has steadily improved each year since. During the most recent regular season, Brunson averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds each game, while recording a 50.02% field goal rate.
Then, Brunson took his game to a new level against the Jazz in the playoffs, before continuing his impressive on-court performance in this series against Phoenix. Through 9 games in the postseason, Brunson is averaging 41.1 points, 2.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds each contest.
He has also become the focal point of Dallas’ offense at times, with phenom Luka Dončić suffering a variety of injuries that have hobbled him this season.
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The Mavericks front office declined to offer Brunson a four-year, $55.5 million contract extension last offseason, which allows the point guard to test the free agent market for the first time in his young career this August.
Enter the Knicks.
New York has a number of point guards on their roster, though none of them stand out as the future of the position in the Garden.
Kemba Walker will be 33 next season, and has already dealt with significant injuries that have hampered his once-explosive offensive attack and made him a liability on defense. Derrick Rose has similarly lost a step, and will likely not be the primary ball-handling option on any team looking for a deep run into the playoffs. Ryan Arcidiacono remains on the roster, but appeared in just 10 games last season, and averaged only 7.6 minutes in each of those matchups.
That leaves Immanuel Quickley, a 22-year-old fan-favorite who has emerged in the hearts and minds of many Knicks fans as a potential solid piece among a young core. The Kentucky product averaged 23.1 minutes per game, and recorded a solid 11.3 points per game, while assisting on 3.5 baskets and rebounding 2.8 times each matchup. Those respectable numbers for the youngster improved significantly towards the end of the season, and gave hope that he may be able to handle ball-dominating responsibilities going forward.
Still, Quickley’s game is still very raw — and Brunson is a far-more known commodity.
The Mavericks, though, have “no intention” of engaging in a sign-and-trade to ship Brunson to another franchise, according to ESPN. That means Knicks president Leon Rose would need to find room on his roster’s cap space to sign Brunson out-right.
If they were able to pull it off, Brunson would make an immediate impact for the team, which already boasts solid talent in RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Quentin Grimes.
Barring a Brunson signing, several other reports suggest that the Knicks could pursue Tyus Jones of the Memphis Grizzlies.