Knicks rumors: New York is reportedly ‘all-in’ on signing Jalen Brunson in free agency

The only reason why the New York Knicks used their No. 11 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft to unload Kemba Walker’s $9.2 million contract in exchange for three future first-round picks was to start to pave a way to sign Jalen Brunson in free agency, right?

A day after the draft, Marc Stein confirmed what we all suspected. After New York wasn’t able to trade up into the top five for Jaden Ivey, the Knicks’ front office shifted their focus from the No. 11 pick to free agency, which begins next week.

A few weeks ago, New York hired Jalen’s father, Rick, as an assistant coach. The rumors started swirling about even more so then, but there hasn’t been a strong indication that the 25-year-old guard wouldn’t re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks. After the absurdity that occurred on draft night, Knicks fans got some clarity.

New York is rolling the dice on landing Brunson and the front office’s confidence seems to be high.

The Knicks are a ‘credible threat’ to lure Jalen Brunson away from the Mavericks in free agency

The argument in favor of Brunson re-signing with Dallas has been that the organization will be able to offer him the most money. They have his Bird Rights. Brunson’s going to go from his $1.8 million salary in 2021-22 to a deal that’s worth $20-$25 annually.

And why would he want to leave the Mavericks, a team that made it to the Western Conference Finals in the playoffs? Meanwhile, the Knicks failed to reach the play-in tournament. Just a few days ago, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer said on his ‘Please Don’t Aggregate This’ podcast:

“It does still sound like Dallas is by far the leader in the clubhouse to retain [Jalen Brunson]. I’ve even heard that he has told former teammates and current teammates that it’s basically like a done deal.”

However, that was pre-draft. Less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the draft, Stein reported (subscription required):

Only the Mavericks, possessing Brunson’s Bird Rights as the incumbent team, have the ability to offer a five-year deal that could zoom well past $100 million. But further boosting New York’s chances is a growing belief among some close to the situation that Brunson wants this move to Madison Square Garden despite his considerable rise in prominence as a Maverick and Dallas’ ability to outbid the Knicks, enticed by the opportunity to become New York’s unquestioned lead guard on top of strong family ties.

Brunson had ties to to New York even before his father was hired as an assistant coach. Leon Rose’s first client during his days as a CAA agent just so happened to be Rick.

And like Stein mentioned, Brunson wouldn’t have to play behind All-Star Luka Doncic with the Knicks and he’d get to be with his father. Even with Immanuel Quickley, New York’s ready to hand the reins over to a new point guard, and Brunson could be that guy.

Stein wrote that the Knicks are “expected to assemble a four-year offer to Brunson valued in the $100 million range.”

New York’s been in this position before, one where the Knicks signing a player in free agency seemed like a done deal. It all comes down to what Brunson wants, which seems to be an opportunity under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

Although Brunson has not yet voiced that to the Mavericks directly, sources say there is a growing fear within the organization that Brunson covets the new challenge and broadened responsibility with the Knicks, even if Dallas counters New York’s offer with an audacious five-year deal.

This might all be a lot to process, especially since the assumption was that New York would either draft Ivey or stay put at No. 11 and keep the pick. The last day has been a whirlwind and because free agency will begin next Thursday, things aren’t going to slow down.

There seems to be mixed emotions amongst the Knicks fanbase about offering Brunson that amount of money, but that’s looking like what’s going to happen. New York still has to create more cap space, so more moves are sure to take place in the coming days.

If you thought that draft night was chaotic, the next few days will likely be just like that, but times a million. Here we go!