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Former Mavs’ Jalen Brunson on Free Agency: 'Kind of Awful’

Jalen Brunson described his free agency as 'kind of awful' before leaving the Dallas Mavericks for the New York Knicks.

After playing an integral role in the Dallas Mavericks' run to the Western Conference Finals, Jalen Brunson faced what many would consider a tough decision in free agency. 

Leaving a team that was close to reaching the NBA Finals is never an easy one, especially when it's the only team they've played for since being drafted. For Brunson, the appeal of the Knicks was simply too great to pass up. 

Staying with the Mavericks would offer a co-star role alongside Luka Doncic, but he wouldn't be the floor general. The Knicks offer a chance to be the primary ball handler for a team in the nation's largest media market. Most importantly, the team hired his father, Rick, for an assistant coach role.

“It’s just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Brunson said. “It’s something you only see in movies and stuff like that. I’m really excited for him to be on the bench.” 

One of the more interesting elements of Brunson's situation was that his decision was seemingly known well before free agency even opened. Contract details were already reported about the four-year, $104 million deal he ended up agreeing to with the Knicks before negotiations were permitted. 

Brunson recently told reporters that free agency was 'kind of awful' because of the public nature of the process before making a decision. Contract details were already surfacing about Brunson before he was allowed to talk to the Knicks.

“Free agency was kind of awful, how public it got,” Brunson said.

The NBA opened a tampering investigation to look into the Knicks for their communication with Brunson before free agency opened. The timeline of events were enough to command the league's attention.

“My reaction to the league investigating? I didn’t really have one,” Brunson said. 

The Knicks are coming off a season that ended with a 37-45 regular season record, which wasn't enough to even qualify for the play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference. Brunson doesn't view himself as a 'savior' for New York.

“I think I said this a while ago, I’m not a savior in any way, shape or form,” Brunson said. “I just want to be able to contribute to a team, try to help this team win games.”

It will require a lot of impact from Brunson for the Knicks to take a few steps forward in 2022-23. It's a challenge that he's embracing and one that comes with the rare opportunity to play for a coaching staff that includes his father.

You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth.

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