After more than a decade of searching, the Knicks believe they’ve finally found a long-term answer for the point guard position in Jalen Brunson.
Brunson, the 25-year-old former Dallas Mavericks ball handler, agreed to a four-year deal worth around $110 million in free agency to join New York — giving them a clear number-one option going forward at the critical position. (The Knicks are also expected to be hit with a fine for tampering, as they reportedly jumped the gun during the recruiting process before the free agency window officially started on June 30th).
Bringing Brunson to Madison Square Garden will end a years-long search for a point guard, as the Knicks have spent years filling the role with mediocre ballers and aging veterans since the departure of Stephon Marbury in 2008.
Brunson, who entered the league as a second round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, has played his only four professional seasons in Dallas, where he proved to be an effective player that has improved each season of his career.
Last season, he averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 50.2% from the field and 37.3% from beyond the arc as the second fiddle to All-Star guard Luka Dončić.
The guard figures to slot nicely alongside Knicks stars like RJ Barrett and Julius Randle, while adding a solid playmaking option for a team that lacked one last season — and many seasons before that.
New York took the court last year with Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley as their go-to ball handlers, who each provided serviceable minutes for the team, though Leon Rose and the rest of the front office considered none of them as a long-term solution for the position.
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After trading Walker to the Pistons on draft night late last month, rumors swirled about their interest in Brunson, and they’ve officially landed their man in free agency.
Knicks fans will surely breathe a sigh of relief as they welcome Bronson to Midtown Manhattan, as he will likely man the point position for years to come — unlike their previous point guards, who have come-and-go as quickly as the season changed.
Since Marbury’s departure, the Knicks have fielded a rotating roster of plug-and-play point guards:
- 2021-22: Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley
- 2020-21: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina
- 2019-20: Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina
- 2018-19: Emmanuel Mudiay, Dennis Smith Jr.
- 2017-18: Trey Burke, Emmanuel Mudiay
- 2016-17: Brandon Jennings, Derrick Rose
- 2015-16: José Calderón, Langston Galloway
- 2014-15: Pablo Prigioni, José Calderón, Langston Galloway
- 2013-14: Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni
- 2012-13: Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni
- 2011-10: Jeremy Lin, Mike Bibby, Baron Davis
- 2010-11: Chauncey Billups, Raymond Felton
- 2009-10: Toney Douglas, Nate Robinson
- 2008-09: Nate Robinson
During that stretch, the team has made the playoff just three times, and made the second round just once (when they topped the Celtics in the opening round of the 2012-13 season).
The debate over the most successful player at the point position in blue and orange centers around Jason Kidd, who was 39-years-old and well outside of his prime, and Jeremy Lin, who lit up the Garden during “Linsanity” over 13 games. They declined to re-sign Lin, and he found a new home with the Houston Rockets after the 2011-10 season.
Now, Brunson hopes to end the carousel of ball handlers in New York, and develop alongside the young core of Barrett, Obi Topping, Mitchell Robinson and others.
Still, the Knicks are far from competing for an NBA Championship this upcoming season, as DraftKings SportsBook ranks them as the 9th-worst odds to capture the Larry O’Brian trophy next season with +15000 odds (meaning bettors would win $151 for every $1 wagered).