The New York Knicks’ biggest move of the offseason was signing Jalen Brunson to a four-year, $104 million contract. The point guard opted to sign with the Knicks in free agency instead of returning to the Dallas Mavericks.
Brunson went from making $1.8 million in 2021-22 to $27.7 million this season, and to no surprise, his contract has drawn a lot of criticism from outsiders. He was praised for his efforts that led the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals a few months ago, but after making the move to New York, Brunson was quickly labeled as overrated.
The 26-year-old went from being the 14th-highest paid player in Dallas to the 14th-highest paid point guard in the league. And regardless of what others have said, his new contract isn’t an overpay. However, like with RJ Barrett, because Brunson’s now on the Knicks, he’s viewed in a different light. Being that Brunson’s from the area and grew up around Tom Thibodeau and Leon Rose, it’s helped that the guard knew what to expect about playing in NYC.
In Brunson’s debut with the Knicks on Tuesday night in the preseason opener against the Pistons, it didn’t take long for him to win over fans.
Jalen Brunson will be the difference maker for the Knicks in 2022-23
The excitement surrounding Kemba Walker’s homecoming quickly fizzled out last season and after Derrick Rose got hurt in December, Thibodeau wrongfully handed the keys to Alec Burks. The lingering pain from 2021-22 made watching Jalen Brunson in a Knicks uniform on Tuesday that much sweeter.
New York’s only played in one preseason game, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Brunson found himself in Salt Lake City in February for the All-Star Game. He’s a huge positive for a Knicks team that has been devoid of hope at the point guard position for far too long.
If Brunson continues to look like he did against Detroit, his critics should begin to admit that no, he isn’t overpaid.
But of course, there are always going to be the people that refuse to believe that signing Brunson was a smart move for New York. That’s just how it goes.
After the game, Brunson acted as if his Knicks debut was just another game. That’s because to him, it was just another game. He keeps his head down and focuses on perfecting his craft, which is why he’s now making 15x what he was in 2021-22. Brunson’s the perfect addition to this young New York team.
The Knicks aren’t the Bucks, Nets, or Celtics, but with Brunson at the helm, a lot of people are going to end up eating their words about New York this season. Wait for it.