Long ties to the Knicks franchise led newly-signed point guard Jalen Brunson to leave the Dallas Mavericks and join New York this offseason.
“Business came knocking on the door,” Brunson said on the The Old Man and the Three podcast. “It was time to just at least look. I had to do my due diligence and look and see what was out there.”
Brunson, 25, signed a 4-year contract worth over $100 million earlier this offseason with the Knicks, which helped end the team’s more-than-a-decade search for a long term option at the point guard position.
A major factor in the ball handler’s decision to come to Madison Square Garden, he said, were the past connections that he and his family have with the Knicks.
His father, Rick, had previously played for the team in 1999, and recently joined Tom Thibodeau’s coaching staff as an assistant, which will bring the father-son duo to the bench.
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And, as Rick and now-head coach Thibodeau had overlapped during the elder-Brunson’s NBA career, when he was just an assistant, Jalen had gotten to know his new head coach as a middle schooler — adding a level of familiarity to their relationship.
“I’m excited for it,” Brunson said. “To have someone like [Thibodeau], where you can possibly cross lines, but know it’s all out of love and all out of respect, they know what type of person I am, how I’m made up. I just know they’re going to push me, try to get the best out of me.”
Having been born a Knicks fan in New Jersey, the younger Brunson grew up cheering for the team, and still has the majority of his close family living in the Tri State area.
““The physical ties are there…so this stuff is coming full circle, as now,” Brunson said. “It’s surreal.”
On top of his family, Brunson himself has longtime connections with the team — as Knicks President Leon Rose was formerly his agent.
Brunson averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 assist and 3.9 rebounds in his 4th NBA season last year, and widely impressed observers with his stellar play in the playoffs, which saw the Mavericks reach the Western Conference Finals.