Is Jalen Brunson the Knicks’ most attainable offseason target?

It’s the same story that’s been heard time and time again. The New York Knicks are supposed to land a star this offseason, whether it be via trade or during free agency. Right now, the two biggest names on the minds of most Knicks fans are Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Brunson.

After the Utah Jazz were first-round exits against the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs, Mitchell’s been spotted around New York City at Citi Field and Madison Square Garden. That doesn’t mean that he’s going to be a Knick because let’s not forget that New York is his home.

And the last thing that Mitchell said about his future was that he was going to revisit it in a week, but that was a few weeks ago. So until he requests a trade, there isn’t going to be any real traction because Utah doesn’t seem interested in getting rid of Mitchell.

On the other hand, there’s Brunson, who hasn’t gotten much time to think about his future because he’s been busy in the playoffs. The Mavericks are down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors and Dallas is one loss away from the end of its 2021-22 season.

Mark Cuban and the Mavericks seem to be committed to doing what they can to bring Brunson back, but his price tag could be too much for the organization to bear.

Will the New York Knicks be able to land Jalen Brunson in free agency?

Fred Katz, who covers the Knicks for The Athletic, answered questions from fans in a mailbag. One of the readers asked which rumored target has “merit” to it and Katz answered Brunson. In his explanation, Katz wrote (subscription required):

The emotional connections are all there. Brunson’s father, Rick, was Knicks president Leon Rose’s first client back when Rose was an NBA agent. Rick also played for Tom Thibodeau and was an assistant coach under him with the Bulls.

There are basketball connections, too. The Knicks are on the prowl for a point guard. Other than Kyrie Irving, Brunson is the top unrestricted one this summer.

Oh, and there’s the fact that the elder Brunson has gone on the record, speaking publicly last month about the deep ties with both Rose and Thibodeau and how his son will consider the Knicks.

Now, don’t get your hopes up. Katz isn’t saying that Brunson is going to undoubtedly be suiting up for New York in 2022-23, but instead that the player seems to be the most attainable on the Knicks’ radar.

Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau, two polarizing people in New York, could end up being enough to lure Brunson away from Dallas. To do so, the Knicks are going to need to create cap space for him, whether it be via a sign-and-trade with the Mavericks (which they’ve said they won’t cooperate with) or unloading a few players from the roster before free agency.

Brunson, who’s making $1.8 million this year, is expected to make between $20-$25 million per season in his next contract. That’s a huge change from what the point guard’s made in his first four years in the league.

New York’s current biggest contract belongs to Julius Randle, who’s set to make $117 million over the next four seasons. If Randle and the Knicks decide to part ways this summer, that’d cause an increased amount of cap space, but like Mitchell, nothing’s been said definitively about Randle’s future. And nothing could end up being said because Randle’s already stated that he wants to stay in New York.

So, what’s there to do now? Well, you can watch Brunson play in Game 5 of the WCF tonight at 9 p.m. ET. And keep waiting.