The Dallas Mavericks plan on re-signing Jalen Brunson when free agency opens on June 30. The 6’1 guard became a full-time starter and the team’s second-leading scorer in his breakout fourth NBA season. Brunson is an unrestricted free agent, but the Mavs believe their run to the Western Conference Finals puts them in front in the race to sign him.
None of that has stopped the New York Knicks from pursuing Brunson. Knicks president Leon Rose was Jalen’s first agent, and he has a close relationship with the entire Brunson family. New York also recently hired his father, Rick Brunson, to be an assistant coach under Tom Thibodeau. The connections run deep between JB and the Knicks, but they currently do not have the cap space to sign him.
Marc Stein dropped his latest rumors (subscription required) on June 22 where he noted Brunson is the Knicks' top free-agent target, and that the Knicks would be “a legitimate threat to prevail in the Brunson Sweepstakes if they can create the needed space”. Here is a look at why that is a problem and a conflicting rumor shared by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer on June 21.
Dallas Mavericks rumors: Knicks threat to sign Jalen Brunson if they create cap space
The Knicks would need to create $20-plus million in cap space to have a chance to sign Brunson. Fischer reported on his podcast, Please Don’t Aggregate This, that JB is in line for a $25 million per season contract, and that his sources say Brunson is telling current and former teammates he is headed back to Dallas. Could the Knicks sneak into the running before June 30?
Creating that much cap space will not be easy unless they work out a deal with the Thunder before the league year flips over. Oklahoma City has $24 million to spend before Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s max contract kicks in. Can the Knicks offload multiple contracts? They would need to give the Thunder a first-round pick at minimum, which is a massive cost for a team that just failed to reach the playoffs.
The Dallas Mavericks are still in the driver’s seat to re-sign Jalen Brunson, but Marc Stein’s latest report makes this a situation to watch until the ink is on the paper.