The Dallas Mavericks could have signed Jalen Brunson to a four-year extension worth $55 million before the 2021-2022 season. The 6’1 point guard struggled in the 2021 playoff against the Clippers, but he wanted to be in Dallas long-term playing for the franchise that drafted him. Dallas made a front office and head coach shake-up in the summer of 2021, and new general manager Nico Harrison was not ready to offer him that deal.
Brunson had a breakout fourth NBA season, and it quickly became apparent that he was outplaying that extension. JB decided to test free agency where he signed a $104 million deal over four years with the New York Knicks. The Mavericks' front office deserves all the blame for not locking him up when they had the chance. Brunson was a promising young talent that was always going to be a key piece of their rotation, even if he was never a star.
JB is red hot right now as he makes his case to be a first-time All-Star. Here is a look at Brunson’s recent play, and why it is making the Mavs' decision to let him hit free agency look worse.
Why Jalen Brunson keeps making the Dallas Mavericks decision to let him go look worse
Brunson is averaging 21.9 points, 6.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.9 steals in 33.4 minutes per game as the starting point guard for the Knicks this season. He is shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 39.0 percent on his 3-pointers. The Mavs desperately miss his ability to get into the paint and hit shots inside. Brunson is not the biggest or fastest player, but he thrives by creating the smallest pockets of space and hitting short jumpers.
Over his last five games, Brunson is averaging 33.2 points, 5.6 assists, and 5.2 rebounds on 52.6 percent shooting from the field and 50.0 percent on his threes. He has the Knicks sitting sixth in the Eastern Conference, and JB will get serious All-Star consideration. Brunson just scored 34 on Wednesday night to help New York defeat the Pacers. The Knicks and Mavericks are both 23-19 on the morning of Jan. 12.
This comes at a time when the Mavericks’ supporting cast around Luka Doncic looks lackluster at best. They desperately need a second star that raises the team’s ceiling. Dallas is tied for fourth in the Western Conference, but one bad week, and they could be back in the play-in tournament picture. Things would be different with Jalen Brunson, but the Mavs are not getting a second chance to fix their mistake. JB is a Knick, and Dallas needs to figure out how to improve their roster around number 77.
Fans should vote for Jalen Brunson to be an All-Star in the Eastern Conference. He deserves to be selected as a reserve, but there is plenty of competition. The Dallas Mavericks still have Luka Doncic, and they have plenty of work to do to build a title contender around their 23-year-old superstar. Stay tuned to see what the front office does next.