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New York Knicks reportedly eyeing surprise target in 2021 NBA offseason

The New York Knicks have been one of the NBA”s pleasant surprises this season, in the race for a playoff spot and sitting above .500 entering the final stretch. While coaches and players are focused on preparing for a postseason run, New York’s front office is already thinking about the offseason.

After a quiet NBA trade deadline, the Knicks will be in a great spot this offseason. They currently have just $49.8 million in committed salary, per Basketball Reference, and are projected to be among the leaders in salary cap space this summer.

New York’s timing could be better. Kawhi Leonard, the lone star eligible for free agency, is expected to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. John Collins will receive a ton of interest, but he’s a restricted free agent and Atlanta could match any offer he receives.

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The Knicks are expected to scour the free-agent market for guards, already being connected to the likes of Lonzo Ball and other potential impact players. While most of the attention is given to marquee names, New York might have another player on its radar.

According to the New York Post‘s Marc Berman, the Knicks have their eye on Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson. A former second-round pick, Brunson could become an RFA this summer.

Read More: Top 25 NBA free agents of 2021

Brunson, who turns 25 in August, has been an unheralded part of the Mavericks’ rotation this season. The final year of his rookie contract is non-guaranteed and Dallas could match any offer he receives if they make him an RFA this summer.

Jalen Brunson stats and fit with New York Knicks

A native of New Jersey and a Villanova alum, Brunson turned an incredible collegiate career into success at the NBA level. He just missed out on being a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, landing with the Mavericks at 33rd overall.

Brunson saw fairly significant time on the floor in his first season, averaging nearly 22 minutes per contest and starting 38-of-73 games. He would average 9.3 points and 3.2 assists per game. He moved into a reduced role the following season, playing fewer than 20 minutes per night and only making 16 starts.

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The 6-foot-1 guard is now enjoying the best season of his young career. While he’s only started 11-of-51 games, Brunson is averaging 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. He’s been extremely efficient as a shooter (52.3% from the field) and is averaging 1.2 three-pointers made per game.

Landing Brunson won’t be easy, but the Knicks might also be planning moves that would make New York his preferred destination. With Mike Woodson off to the University of Indiana, the Knicks are reportedly eyeing Rick Brunson to join the coaching staff as an assistant.

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Not only is Rick the father of Jalen and a former assistant on Tom Thibodeau’s staff in Chicago and Minnesota, but he also used to play for the Knicks.

Brunson wouldn’t be a marquee addition for New York this summer, but the young guard would provide nice rotation depth to pair with Immanuel Quickley. Plus, since this year’s free-agent class is so weak, the Knicks can save their money for the 2022 class.