Ever since he was selected in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft, Jalen Brunson has seen his game improve big time.
Closing up shop on his fourth season with the Dallas Mavericks, the 6-foot-1 guard is set to hit free ageny this coming summer.
For the former national champion at Villanova, free agency couldn’t come at a better time. Brunson is playing the best basketball of his career en route to leading Dallas to a 3-3 series tie against the Phoenix Suns heading into Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
A likely target of the New York Knicks in free agency, it now looks like Brunson won’t go anywhere once the summer comes calling.
“One league source who has spoken to Cuban during the playoffs told The Post he’d be shocked if Cuban didn’t keep Brunson.”Marc Berman of the NY Post on Jalen Brunson
Interestingly, Knicks front office head Leon Rose’s son represents Jalen Brunson through CAA. That’s where the link started initially with the Knicks also looking to upgrade the point guard spot this summer.
Jalen Brunson taking his game to a whole new level
Brunson, 25, helped Dallas overcome the absence of star guard Luka Doncic early in its first-round series against the Utah Jazz.
He averaged 32.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 51% shooting in the three games that Donic missed — enabling Dallas to tread water before it ultimately took out the Jazz in six games. His performance throughout the entire playoffs has been eye-opening.
- Jalen Brunson stats (2022 NBA Playoffs): 23.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.7 APG, 46% shooting
Dallas acquired Spencer Dinwiddie was the centerpiece in a package for Kristaps Porzingis during the February 10 NBA trade deadline. The idea here was to have a back-up plan should Brunson depart in free agency.
Given how well Brunson has played and with Dinwiddie taking on a supporting role off the bench, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Dinwiddie is the Mavericks’ fourth-leading scorer in the postseason behind Doncic, Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith.
This adds another layer to the idea that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will do everything possible to re-sign Brunson in free agency.
Taking a look at next Jalen Brunson contract
It was last offseason that Dallas declined to offer Brunson a four-year, $55 million contract. He was coming off a 2020-21 campaign that saw the guard average 12.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 52% from the field. Dallas did attempt to get a deal done with Brunson following the deadline, but signed the aforementioned Finney-Smith to his own four-year, $55 million extension.
Said decision will end up costing Dallas big time once the summer comes calling. Projections before Brunson’s playoff success were that he’d get roughly $20 million annually. That ceiling has now been raised to $25-plus million per on a long-term deal.
Dallas could be looking at offering up $100 million over four years. That’s nearly double of what it could have landed Brunson for ahead of the 2021-22 season.
It’s not as much about finances as it is the salary cap for billionaire owner Mark Cuban. Dallas is expected to be roughly $46 million over the cap with Luka Doncic’s super-max contract hitting the books. Tim Hardaway Jr., Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans and Finney-Smith are also set to count a combined $67-plus million against the cap.