The Dallas Mavericks have reached the Western Conference Finals for just the fifth time in NBA history, and they would not be back without Jalen Brunson. The 6’1 guard led the charge when Luka Doncic missed the first three games of their opening-round series against the Utah Jazz, and he was the team’s second-leading scorer averaging 18.7 points per game against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals.
Brunson has made himself a lot of money this postseason. He becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season after the Mavs failed to get an extension done with the 25-year-old point guard. JB will have plenty of suitors, and the rumors are already starting to heat up.
Brunson may have lost a suitor following the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery, though. Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer noted this possibility on his podcast. Here is a look at what happened and why JB may have one fewer team chasing him this summer.
Did Jalen Brunson lose a free agent suitor in the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery?
The three teams linked closest to Brunson in free agency were all in the lottery on Tuesday night, and all three failed to land a place in the top four.
The New York Knicks select 11th overall, which should have no bearing on their pursuit of the current Mavericks guard. Knicks president Leon Rose has known JB since his childhood and figures to be after the 6’1 guard’s services when free agency opens.
The Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers select fifth and sixth respectively following the lottery with guards Jaden Ivey, Shaedon Sharpe, and Dyson Daniels near the top of draft boards at those selections.
Ivey is projected by most to be a top-four pick, but could Keegan Murray make it four forwards off the board before the first guard? If so, the Pistons figure to take Ivey and make him the backcourt partner for Cade Cunningham for years to come, which leaves no room for Jalen Brunson. Detroit wants to take a step forward next season, but signing a marquee free agent at the same position as the player picked fifth overall does not seem to be wise roster management.
The Pacers will choose the best player available at sixth overall and Mavericks fans know Rick Carlisle’s stance on rookies. They will likely be in the mix for Brunson in free agency, regardless of their selection. Drafting Sharpe or Daniels would give them another guard that needs minutes to develop next to Tyrese Haliburton, and it could put a limit on the price and number of years they are willing to pay JB.
Will the Detroit Pistons or Indiana Pacers draft a guard on June 23? It will depend on which players get selected in the top four, but picking a point guard likely ends their pursuit of Jalen Brunson before it began. It is a storyline for Dallas Mavericks fans to watch come draft night.