The Dallas Mavericks have been told guard Jalen Brunson intends to sign with the New York Knicks in free agency, sources have told ESPN.
A meeting with the Mavs that was scheduled to be held shortly after free agency opened Thursday night was canceled in the afternoon, sources confirmed, because Brunson had decided to commit to the Knicks. New York is expected to offer Brunson a four-year contract worth around $110 million, sources said.
NBA reporter Marc Stein first reported that the meeting with Dallas had been canceled.
Brunson’s departure from Dallas to New York has been widely expected for days as the Knicks made a more lucrative bid to play a bigger role for a franchise that has deep family ties, including the recent addition of his father, Rick Brunson, as an assistant. coach.
Knicks president Leon Rose, who has made a series of trades since draft night to create enough room to sign Brunson, is a former high-profile players’ agent whose first client was Rick Brunson. He also represented Jalen Brunson early in his career. Rick Brunson’s recent hire reunited him with head coach Tom Thibodeau, for whom he also served as an assistant with the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Brunson, 25, who is coming off a stellar season in which he averaged 16.3 points and 4.8 assists per game, intends to help revitalize a New York franchise that’s n haven’t won a playoff in the past nine seasons. New York’s only playoff appearance and winning campaign during that span was in 2020-21, Thibodeau’s first season as Knicks head coach, when they went 41-31 before losing as the No. 4 seed to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.
Brunson established himself as Dallas’ No. 2 option behind All-NBA guard Luka Doncic, his classmate from the 2018 draft, after joining the starting lineup full-time in December. Brunson helped lead the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 11 years, averaging 21.6 points per game during the playoffs. He exploded for performances of 41 and 31 points in first-round wins over the Utah Jazz while Doncic was sidelined by a strained calf, a strong indication Brunson could thrive as a primary playmaker. of a team.
“It’s a really good fit [in Dallas], but at the end of the day, my son is no different than the next man,” Rick Brunson told ESPN during that first-round series. “You’re trying to raise them in the right way in terms of understanding the game, but everyone wants what Luka has. I don’t care who you are. Everyone wants that feeling of, ‘Hey, I can do this too.’ I don’t always think the grass is greener on the other side, but we’re going to sit down this summer and go through all the pros and cons of staying here or going somewhere else.”
Mavericks Governor Mark Cuban and General Manager Nico Harrison ranked Brunson as the franchise’s top priority in the offseason following the playoffs, but Dallas’ confidence in Brunson’s retention has steadily waned. in the days leading up to free agency.
Sources said the Mavericks were willing to give Brunson a five-year deal – which only Dallas can offer due to owning his Bird rights – which was comparable to the four-year, $85 million deal that Fred VanVleet signed with the Toronto Raptors in 2020.
Brunson, an unrestricted free agent because the fourth season of his rookie contract was not guaranteed instead of a team option, declined the Mavs’ offer of a $55.5 million contract extension dollars over four years past the trade deadline, when Dallas forward Dorian Finney-Smith signed an identical deal. At this point, Brunson was confident he would earn a lot more as a free agent.
Jalen Brunson had informed the Mavs in January that he was ready to sign the extension if it was then offered, Rick Brunson told ESPN during the playoffs. Dallas made the calculated decision to suspend talks until after the trade deadline, in case the Mavs had the chance to trade for a star, because an extension would have kept Brunson from being trade-eligible for six years. month.