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Three Jalen Brunson Free Agency Destinations

Liam McKeone
Jalen Brunson
Jalen Brunson / Harry How/GettyImages
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In what is turning out to be a pretty weak free agent market this offseason, Jalen Brunson is about to get paid with a capital P. Brunson is the best player hitting the market after a breakout season during which he averaged 16.3 points per game on 50.2 percent shooting from the floor and hitting 37 percent of his three-point tries. He showed the ability to create off the dribble at a high enough level that it's easy to project him as a 20-PPG scorer if he was able to run the show instead working in a Luka Doncic-centric offense.

Brunson is not a perfect player. He is a liability defensively and averaged all of 2.7 free throws per game in Dallas last year. But everybody wants a point guard who can score and run the offense, especially one like Brunson who is hitting the restricted free agent market at only 25 years-old.

The bidding war for Brunson will officially begin on June 30. Here are a few landing spots for the point guard.

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals last season in part because of Brunson's ability to capitalize when defenses were keyed in on Doncic. They'll undoubtedly be interested in bringing him back to help keep the load on the shoulders of their superstar light, both when he's on and off the court. But Brunson's breakout year might price the Mavs out of negotiation. They'll want to keep him, but it's hard to argue it's a good use of resources to pay an undersized, scoring guard north of $20 million a year when the team's No. 1 option is at his best surrounded by more prototypical three-and-D players and PGs who can run the offense at an average level with Doncic on the bench are available for much cheaper.

If Brunson wants to stay with the Mavs and compete, a deal could get done. Something like $90 million over four years would probably please both sides. But if Brunson wants his money no matter what, Dallas isn't where he'll find it.

New York Knicks

The Knicks appear to be the presumed destination for Brunson, especially after their draft-night antics. They avoided selecting any players at all and instead dumped Kemba Walker's salary to create more cap room. New York is up to nearly $40 million in cap space entering free agency after draft night and it seems like Brunson is their man. It would be a good fit, for all the hemming and hawing people have done about how the Knicks went about business on Thursday. New York desperately needs a consistent creator at the point guard position who can also set up teammates; Brunson averaged 4.8 assists to 1.6 turnovers last year and will likely increase his assist numbers with consistent full reign of the offense.

Brunson isn't going to drag the Knicks back into the national spotlight by himself. If they want to make the leap to contention next year, Brunson will have to be the first of several big moves. But by and large, it would be a good decision. Teams should always be wary of contract year performances but Brunson fits their timeline, fills a need, and could be good enough to dangle as a trade piece in the future if a superstar becomes available. As we all know, the Knicks have made worse decisions!

San Antonio Spurs

As things currently stand, the Spurs probably wouldn't go after Brunson all that hard. They missed Derrick White's production by the end of the season after he was shipped up to Boston at the trade deadline, and they will have about $18 million in cap space to play with, but the Spurs just don't have a history of aggressively going after the most popular name on the free agency market.

But! There are rumors abound that Dejounte Murray could get moved. It is not likely, given San Antonio is apparently telling teams they need a Jrue Holiday-level package to even start the conversation. However, should Murray get moved for a big haul of picks, it'll open up more space for the Spurs to make moves in free agency and Brunson would be an ideal addition. He could provide the scoring punch the roster desperately needs while Malaki Branham adjusts to NBA life and Gregg Popovich can make a decent defender out of anybody. The Spurs are never interested in tanking and Brunson is good enough to play a big role on a winning team. If Murray goes, Brunson should be a target. And even if he doesn't, San Antonio could get involved if the Knicks go after a bigger fish and Brunson ends up without other options.

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