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Report: Jalen Brunson to leave Mavericks for four-year, $110M contract with Knicks

Jalen Brunson in Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 12: Jalen Brunson #13 of the Dallas Mavericks drives around Alec Burks #18 of the New York Knicks in the first half at Madison Square Garden on January 12, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Jalen Brunson reportedly planned to meet with the Mavericks, Knicks and Heat once free agency opens. The Miami meeting isn’t happening. Neither is the Dallas meeting.

That leaves New York.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

New York certainly executed its plan. The Knicks – whose front office is run by Leon Rose (a longtime family friend of Brunson and father of Brunson’s agent, Sam Rose) – hired Brunson’s dad, Rick Brunson, as an assistant coach and have been clearing salary to open cap space for this deal.

Will it pay off?

Brunson certainly stepped up for the Mavericks with and without Luka Doncic in this year’s playoffs. The 25-year-old is a skilled guard whose defensive competitiveness will be welcomed by New York coach Tom Thibodeau.

But that’s a lot of money to pay someone unlikely ever to become an All-Star. Brunson will also face steeper challenges with the Knicks, who don’t provide nearly as much floor spacing as the Mavericks (particularly with two other lefties, R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle, in the lineup).

This is a tough loss for Dallas. Barring other moves, the Mavericks will be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception to find a replacement for Brunson. That won’t draw a player nearly as good.

Dallas still has Spencer Dinwiddie to play beside and behind Doncic. Tim Hardaway Jr. is getting healthier and can take minutes on the wing.

But the Mavericks will rue not giving Brunson a contract extension worth half as much when they had the chance.

Maybe this will turn into a sign-and-trade. Dallas would create a trade exception worth half Brunson’s starting salary, and New York could use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception by remaining over the cap.