While the New York Knicks have greatly benefitted from the free agency addition of Jalen Brunson, the Mavericks have been left trying to make up for his absence. Dallas finally added a star alongside Luka Doncic by trading for Kyrie Irving, but that’s a move that could come back to haunt the team during the offseason.
Now that he’s out of Doncic’s shadow, Brunson is averaging a career-best 23.8 points and 6.2 assists. He’s shooting 48.9% from the floor and 41.1% from three. Between Brunson’s high level of play and Julius Randle making up for his disappointing 2021-22 season by being named an All-Star for the second time, the Knicks could secure a playoff berth if they can maintain their top-six seed in the East.
Meanwhile, things haven’t been going so swell for the Mavericks. In the middle of a packed Western Conference, Dallas will either end up fighting for a playoff spot in the play-in tournament or miss the play-in tournament altogether. It was less than a year ago that Brunson was in the spotlight during the playoffs for the Mavericks in what ended up being his final show.
Brunson signed a four-year, $104 million deal with the Knicks in free agency. New York ended up losing a second-round pick in the process because of tampering, but the 26-year-old point guard has been worth every cent and more. It’s a good thing that Dallas didn’t sign him to a four-year, $55 million deal when the organization had the chance.
Knicks’ Jalen Brunson opens up about his Mavericks departure in Bleacher Report interview
Jalen Brunson could’ve re-signed with the Mavericks ahead of the 2021-22 season. According to Bleacher Report, he would’ve accepted the $55 million deal. The idea of him re-signing with Dallas was brought up again in January of 2022, but the Mavericks opted not to proceed for the second time. Rather than call out the front office for making a mistake, Brunson took the high road.
"“There were two times that I thought we had offers on the table before the season, and then around, I think December or January, they looked the other way,” Brunson said. “They had every right in the world to do so. I don’t blame them for making any business decisions. That’s on them.”"
Here’s the quote from Brunson that will make Dallas fans feel even more regret about watching him walk in free agency.
"“… When I first got drafted there, I had that mindset of seeing myself being there for a very long time. My vet at the time, J.J. Barea, he taught me so much and he was there for such a long time. I wanted that role of being with the Mavericks for the long haul of my career. I truly loved that place.”"
That’s yet another self-inflicted problem for the Mavericks. The Knicks are lucky that the Mavericks let Brunson walk. He wanted to be in Dallas long-term, but now he’s set to be in New York through at least the 2024-25 season. Don’t expect Leon Rose to make the same mistake that Mark Cuban did.
The Knicks could secure a playoff berth and still draft a lottery player in June. Fans can thank the Mavericks for both of those things.