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New York Knicks hire Jalen Brunson’s dad, Rick, to be assistant coach

Andrew Buller-Russ

As Jalen Brunson prepares to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, his dad, Rick Brunson has just signed on to be an assistant coach on Tom Thibodeau’s staff with the New York Knicks.

With the Knicks in need of a starting point guard and already having been rumored to be interested in signing Brunson as a free agent, this connection will only pour more fuel on the flames.

Yet, the addition of Rick to the coaching staff might have more to do with his previous ties to coach Thibs than it does to Jalen’s free agency decision.

Related: Why the Dallas Mavericks should not re-sign Jalen Brunson this offseason

Rick Brunson has worked with Tom Thibodeau before

Did the odds for the New York Knicks to sign Jalen Brunson just increase due to Rick Brunson’s hiring? Probably not.

Brunson and Thibodeau initially connected back in Rick’s high school days in 1991 when Brunson played for Salem High School with Thibs coaching nearby at Salem State. There have been many links in between, but Brunson also worked for Thibodeau in two NBA organizations.

The first was with the Chicago Bulls from 2010 to 2012 and the second was with the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2016 to 2018. But the second tenure ended with some controversy after Brunson resigned due to allegations of improper conduct toward women.

This event along with others in his past may be a contributing factor to why Brunson hadn’t been hired elsewhere in the NBA for the past three years or anywhere other than under Thibs since 2013. Instead, Brunson has been coaching at the Camden High School in New Jersey since 2019.

Now Brunson appears to be getting another chance on an NBA bench, and it’s a return to Madison Square Garden for the 49-year-old former player who even had two separate one-year stints with the Knicks from 1999 to 2001.

It’s the first time Brunson has been on an NBA team since his son entered the league as a second-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Jalen Brunson will suddenly sign with the Knicks.

The most recent word from the Mavericks stated an intent to not let Brunson walk as a free agent, and unless the Knicks make an offer that cannot be refused, having his dad on the staff likely won’t swing his long-term mindset too much. Plus, Thibs could be on the hot seat with another bad start to the season next year, meaning Rick likely wouldn’t be too far behind him once again.

Related: 5 ideal Jalen Brunson landing spots in NBA free agency