The top priority for the Dallas Mavericks entering the offseason was to retain the services of Jalen Brunson, who is soon to enter free agency on Thursday. The momentum recently shifted to the New York Knicks being the favorites to sign him, but the race for his services may not be over just yet.
After pulling off a career-best year with averages of 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists, Brunson followed it with postseason heroics. With Luka Doncic sidelined for the first three games of the Mavericks' first-round series against the Utah Jazz, Brunson averaged 32.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists.
Brunson's perceived value had soared after leading the Mavericks to a 2-1 record to begin their series against the Jazz without Doncic. He continued to make a significant impact with averages of 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 18 playoff games as the Mavericks made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
It was reported late last week by Marc Stein that Brunson is increasingly expected to receive a four-year contract offer worth in the "range" of $100 million after New York had begun clearing the necessary cap space using trades to be able to make such an offer.
On Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports reported the Knicks are still viewed as the frontrunners to sign Brunson and are expected to offer a deal in the 'vicinity of a whopping $110 million.'
The Knicks are viewed as the frontrunners and the expectation is an offer of four years, in the vicinity of a whopping $110 million will be proposed, sources said.
Given the ability of the Knicks to offer Brunson the lead ball-handler role, it would be a justifiable choice to sign with New York. His father, Rick, is now a member of their coach staff. Brunson's agent, Sam Rose, is the son of Leon Rose, who runs the team's front office. While there may be some fit concerns, they have clearly shown how much they value Brunson by clearing significant cap space in anticipation of his free agency.
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The Knicks may be favored to sign Brunson, but he will be meeting with them along with the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat after free agency opens. There will be an opportunity for the Mavs to offer Brunson a contract 'sweet enough' to entice him to re-sign.
The Mavericks will be given an opportunity to present an offer sweet enough to entice the four-year veteran into re-signing. Owner Mark Cuban, general manager Nico Harrison, head coach Jason Kidd and potentially a few players are expected to attend the meeting, sources said.
The Mavericks had initially hoped a five-year, $106 million contract offer would be enough to secure Brunson's signature. Given the Knicks' reported willingness to offer a four-year deal in the $110 million range, it's become clear that Dallas will need to increase their offer.
There is no incentive for the Mavericks to walk away from the negotiating table with Brunson. They are operating over the salary cap and will be unable to replace him in free agency. The lack of trade assets they face restricts the possible backup measures they can take to reconfigure the roster.
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