The Dallas Mavericks remain confident that Jalen Brunson will re-sign with the franchise even if he hits free agency after the 2021-22 campaign, according to NBA insider Marc Stein (h/t HoopsHype).
Brunson, 25, is set to hit free agency this summer after signing a four-year, $6 million deal as a rookie in 2018.
Brunson is "quietly regarded as Dallas' most effective and forceful locker-room leader," according to Stein, so it's no surprise the Mavs are interested in retaining him beyond 2021-22.
The Villanova product was selected with the 33rd overall pick in the 2018 draft, 30 spots after the Mavericks selected Luka Doncic. While Brunson isn't on the same level as Doncic, he is certainly considered one of the better second-round picks of the last few years.
Brunson has improved in each of his four NBA seasons and is on pace to have a career year in 2021-22. He's averaging 15.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from deep.
Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd also said earlier this season that Brunson brings down the stress level of Doncic. His comments put even more emphasis on how reliable the point guard is for the franchise.
"The stress level is down, especially for Luka," Kidd told reporters. "When you have two ball-handlers on the floor—two playmakers—it helps the team and it also helps Luka where he doesn't have to do it all."
The Mavs are fourth in the Western Conference this season with a 10-7 record. A lot of the team's success can be attributed not only to Doncic but also Brunson.
It's unclear which teams might be interested in Brunson if he becomes a free agent. However, the New York Knicks have been linked to the rising star since June 2021. The New York Post's Marc Berman reported back then that Knicks president Leon Rose "loves" Brunson and believes he is a "legitimate starting, playmaking point guard."