Knicks get new free agent target with Bruce Brown Jr. hitting market

Bruce Brown could be a free agent target for the Knicks
Denver Nuggets forward Bruce Brown (11) drives to the basket as Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin (16) and guard Kyle Lowry (7) defend during the second half of Game 4 of the basketball NBA Finals, Friday, June 9, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Last week we covered a few of the top potential free-agent targets for the New York Knicks based on their need for floor spacing and perimeter defense. However, another talented option became available on Wednesday when Denver Nuggets wing Bruce Brown Jr. declined his player option to test the market

While Bruce Brown Jr. has played for three teams so far in his five-year NBA career, this past season with the Nuggets unlocked a new level for the 26-year-old.

In his first two seasons in Detroit, he was used primarily as a backup point guard, and the same was true in his first season with the Brooklyn Nets. However, last year the Nets experimented with using Brown as a wing despite him being only 6’4″, and Brown came through in stretches, shooting 40.4% from beyond the arc and showcasing his strong perimeter defense.

The Nuggets noticed that and signed him to a one-year deal last summer. Denver immediately installed Brown as more of a three-and-D wing who would also help back-up Jamaal Murray at point guard. Brown responded with a career year, scoring 11.5 points per game with 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists while playing 80 games.

During Denver’s run to the NBA championship, Brown averaged 12.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per game in 26.5 minutes per game. However, he did shoot just 31.6% from deep after shooting 35.8% during the regular season. 

After shooting 35.9% from beyond the arc in two seasons with the Nets, Brown is emerging as a reliable three-point threat. 

However, Brown has also been a strong perimeter defender as well. He ranked 27th among small forwards in 2023 with a 0.8 defensive RAPTOR score.

While Brown doesn’t have ideal height for a wing, he has shown the ability to defend taller offensive players, which should give the Knicks confidence in using him as a three-and-D option off of the bench. 

Bruce Brown could be a free agent target for the Knicks
Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent, left, and Denver Nuggets forward Bruce Brown compete for possession of the ball during the second half of Game 5 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Monday, June 12, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

However, Brown may never truly hit the free agent market. According to Denver Sports, during the champagne showers and parade, Brown said he wanted to come back to Denver. The issue is just that, due to salary cap restrictions, the Nuggets can’t offer him more than $7.8 million for next season.

Denver Sports suggests that Brown could sign a two-year deal worth $7.7 million a season with the second season being a player option. This would give the sides a chance at a long-term deal in the summer of 2024, starting at $13.4 million per season.

Yet, the Knicks could swoop in with more money and entice Brown away from the reigning NBA champions. In addition to the money, if the Knicks decide not to work out an extension with Quentin Grimes, or even trade him away for a veteran star, Brown could have a chance to earn the starting shooting guard spot in New York, which is an opportunity that might not be present for him in Denver. 

Regardless, Brown should have a robust free agent market, and the Knicks are very likely to be one of the teams that will reach out with interest. 

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Bruce Brown could be a free agent target for the Knicks
Denver Nuggets forward Bruce Brown hugs the championship trophy during a rally to mark the Denver Nuggets first NBA basketball championship Thursday, June 15, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)