It may be a long time until the next NBA free agency period opens up, but the Dallas Mavericks, as all teams around the league do, have to already be planning ahead with how they manage certain parts of their roster.
Two members of the Mavericks' current regular starting lineup, Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith, are set to be unrestricted free agents in the offseason. Both players have seemingly played their way into big raises.
Two NBA insiders, Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer and SNY's Ian Begley, appeared on a live audio room on the Halftime app to discuss the latest trade talk around the league.
When asked about Jalen Brunson's pending free agency and potential trade market, Begley stated the Knicks 'have at least touched base' with the Mavericks about Brunson.
Begley also mentioned there's at least one more team willing to make him an offer 'north of $20 million' in free agency.
"Jalen Brunson, for many different reasons, has been on the Knick radar for a while now. He's got plenty of connections to the Knicks. So I know the Knicks, at the very least, have touched based with Dallas on Brunson and I can't tell you what it would take to pry Brunson from Dallas from a Knick perspective. I'm not sure on that.
But I do know he's a highly sought after player and if he does hit unrestricted free agency, I can say pretty confidently there's at least one other team prepared to give him an offer north of $20 million per year. So it's an interesting situation with Dallas. Is Dallas prepared to pay him that kind of money? How do they see that salary fitting in with the rest of the money they will owe the rest of the players on the roster including obviously Luka Doncic?"
Begley did make note that he isn't sure how willing the Mavericks would actually be to move Brunson at the trade deadline in order to essentially get ahead of possibly losing a member of their starting backcourt in free agency.
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"I don't know about Dallas' willingness to get off of Brunson at the moment. But if I'm hearing there will be significant suitors for Brunson in free agency, I'm sure they know that that too. So you have to weigh the idea of potentially losing him for nothing versus dealing him at the deadline and at least getting an asset back."
If the Mavericks were to engage the Knicks about a potential trade involving Brunson. It would make a lot of sense for Dallas to focus on getting back the 2023 first-round pick they owe New York as a centerpiece of any potential return.
Right now, the Mavericks are very limited on what type of trade offers they can make for impact players since they have protections that could convey all the way through 2025 attached to that 2023 first-round pick. Getting that pick back completely re-opens their options in that regard.
There's been speculation from some national experts about the long-term viability of a Brunson-Doncic backcourt when considering neither are necessarily three-point aces and Brunson being undersized could make him a target in the playoffs when teams emphasize drawing switches.
Perhaps the top factor in that skepticism from national experts, however, has been Brunson's underwhelming playoff performances against the LA Clippers. Many want to see him thrive in a playoff series before making long-term declarations.
There's also a real reason to question why the Knicks would be interested in paying Brunson such a large deal when they themselves are nowhere near a championship contender. A move to sign Brunson brings them no closer to being at that level, either.
As they always say when it comes to a player's free agency, 'all it takes is one team.' We will see how this affects what the Mavs do before the NBA trade deadline two weeks from now.