A big week awaits the Dallas Mavericks as NBA free agency begins Thursday at 5 p.m. central time. Rumors involving many players are already starting to swirl, and it has yet to be seen who truly has the upper hand in the Jalen Brunson sweepstakes between the Mavs and New York Knicks.
According to the latest report from Marc Stein, it appears that things are still very much up in the air: "I've been repeatedly asked since my Friday piece on The Jalen Brunson Sweepstakes to handicap which team is in the lead to sign the coveted point guard in free agency. That can’t be accurately done yet.
"The Knicks have unquestionably positioned themselves as a very real threat to the Mavericks, but presumably only Brunson and his father, Knicks assistant coach Rick Brunson, know precisely where things stand."
Stein goes on to say that it is basically down to the Mavs and Knicks in the race for Brunson, as the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers are no longer considered viable threats. The Pistons have been linked to restricted free agents Deandre Ayton and Miles Bridges. The Pacers are also rumored to be interested in acquiring Bridges.
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The Knicks have been rumored to be positioning themselves to offer Brunson a contract worth at least four years and around $100 million. The Mavericks are able to offer far more than that, as well as a fifth year. The Mavericks could offer $25 million a year for the five years.
There has been speculation of $25 million per year being too much for the young guard, but if you actually look at the salaries of the other guards in the league, that amount would put Brunson smack dab in the middle of the pack ... and it's still less than what the Mavs were willing to throw at 35-year-old Kyle Lowry last summer.
"Brunson's strong play last season, particularly in leading the Mavericks to two playoff wins over Utah while Luka Doncic was out with a calf injury, more than justifies such an outlay," writes Stein.
This free agency race will come down to who can offer Brunson what he is looking for. Does he want to chase an expanded role in New York on a less-talented team? Is he content with continuing to build on his current Western Conference finals team while being the second-best player under Luka Doncic?
When free agency opens up on Thursday evening, Mavs and Knicks fans alike could get the answer to those questions within seconds.