Knicks Rumors: Mavericks' Jalen Brunson on New York's Radar Ahead of Free Agency

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 16, 2021

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 5: Jalen Brunson #13 of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles the ball against the Utah Jazz on April 5, 2021 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The New York Knicks reportedly have their "eye on" Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson, who could become a restricted free agent during the 2021 NBA offseason.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported Friday the Knicks could also hire Brunson's father, former Knick Rick Brunson, as an assistant coach to replace Mike Woodson, who left the staff in late March to become the head coach at Indiana University.

Jalen Brunson is putting together a strong season in a reserve role for the Mavs. He's averaged 12.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 52.6 percent from the field, including 39.2 percent on threes, across 50 appearances.

The 24-year-old New Jersey native has provided Dallas with a reliable option to run the second unit, but his path to a more expansive role is blocked by perennial MVP candidate Luka Doncic.

It's raised questions about his future with the franchise, either as a restricted free agent this offseason or an unrestricted free agent in 2022 if the front office guarantees his contract for the 2021-22 campaign.

The Mavericks have experimented with putting Doncic and Brunson on the floor together recently, something the Villanova product explained last week he's enjoyed:

"Coach gives us some freedom to make plays. It's pretty fun having a guy like that [Luka] on the other wing that's probably not going to be helped off of [defensively]. So there's definitely going to be space.

"And when he has the ball, I just try to get in his vision and try to give him an outlet. He's going to draw so much attention, that I know I can get to certain spots on the floor and be ready to shoot or make a secondary play."

Meanwhile, the Knicks' long-term search for a franchise point guard will continue this summer. While the rest of the roster has made significant strides in recent years, leading to this season's 29-27, a premier guard to run the offense has remained elusive.

Whether Brunson can reach that high-end level is still up for debate, but he's made steady progress over his first three NBA seasons to improve the outlook for the type of player he'll be during his prime.

It's unclear whether hiring his dad as a coach could sway his decision as a potential free agent, but Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau recently praised Rick Brunson, per Berman.

"I am fond of Rick Brunson—his son is a terrific player and having a helluva year," Thibodeau said. "I'm happy for him, watched him grow up. I remember him from the time he was coming to the Garden to watch Allan Houston and [Latrell] Sprewell play. He was 6 years old and mimicked their moves. He's become a darn good player and become a great kid too."

It makes the dual-Brunson storyline one to watch for Knicks fans in the coming months.