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The path is clear: Jalen Brunson to the Knicks is all but done, per sources

A deal that felt like it was only a matter of time is now materializing in New York. PIC: Fadeaway World

Many Knicks fans say that Draft Day was a bust.

Ousmane Dieng, who stood out with the New Zealand Breakers, was a great pick for New York…until they dealt the rights to his pick to Oklahoma City in exchange for a few future first-rounders.

Then, the Charlotte Hornets take Memphis big-man Jalen Duren at pick #13. On our Twitter Spaces last week, Sam Basel had said it’d be interesting to see the Knicks take a big-man in this area of the draft. I definitely concur, as some paint depth is certainly on the Knicks shopping list sometime soon. When Duren went, it was never even a thought that we’d see him at MSG, but all of a sudden, the Hornets dealt him to NYK.

New York rejoiced.

Until it didn’t.

The Knicks immediately flipped Duren and Kemba Walker to Detroit in exchange for a conditional first-round pick in 2025, which hinges on the Milwaukee Bucks not receiving a lottery pick. The return was minimal, and the activity was high, which suggests something was mulling in the Knicks front office.

Even today, another trade that exclusively went down to free up cap space was completed with the Pistons. Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks - after unsurprisingly underwhelming stints with the Knicks - were dealt to Detroit with the goal of unloading $19m in salary.

It’s worth asking the question, whether you believe in him or not - what is Leon Rose engineering?

As it turns out, this all seems to be a part of a play to sign Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson in the upcoming free agency window, per Adrian Wojnarowski and other ESPN contributors. Brunson has been rumored to be in the market for a $100 million, four-year deal, and appears to be in serious talks with the Knicks for a number like this.

Brunson was never a standout player in the NBA, but was widely considered to be one of the best college basketball players of all time. He won two national championships under Jay Wright at Villanova, and in 2018, he won the National College Player of the Year in the same year he was named a First-Team All-American.

The transition to the NBA was a bit slower for Brunson; although he was touted as an “instant-impact” prospect, he averaged less than 10 points per game in his first two seasons. The delayed 2020-21 season saw him crack double-digits (12.6ppg), but his breakout season in 2021-22 rose his stock before impending free agency. This past campaign, he averaged 16.3 points and 4.8 assists per game, which solidified him as the complementary option to Luka Doncic. Brunson chipped in 21.6 points per game in the playoffs, dropping 41 points against the Jazz, following it up with a 31-point performance days later.

Since the fourth season of his rookie deal was classified as “non-guaranteed” instead of a club option, Jalen Brunson was given an offer of $55.5 million over four years. He declined, as the media citing Dorian Finney-Smith’s identical offer as “insulting” to Brunson.

So now, off he goes to free agency. It seems like with all the movement and cap-clearing space, Brunson is the next big thing in New York...or, at least, the Knicks front office. Leon Rose has known Jalen from the early days of his life, as his first client was new assistant coach Rick Brunson…or, as Jalen calls him, “Dad.” It’s no secret Brunson would be the playmaker in New York.

Is it worth the investment of $25 million per year? And, the better question…does this alone make the Knicks competitive next year? They’ll need more, but it’ll have to be from unlikely contributors as the Knicks continue to struggle with their identity.

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