The New York Knicks are about to offer Jalen Brunson a four-year deal worth somewhere around $110 million when NBA free agency opens on Thursday. The New Jersey native is coming off a breakout year for the Dallas Mavericks and turned himself into one of the hottest free agents on the market. But the Knicks will be buying high on the 25-year-old, and overpaying for his services. Big time.
If the deal is for $110 million, that averages out to $27.5 million a year. That's star money for a guy whose numbers simply don't justify that classification. Brunson will be the highest-paid player on the roster and no one knows if he's ready to shoulder that burden. It's all a guess.
The Knicks have been telegraphing this move for weeks. They made multiple trades to clear cap space, including attaching a first-round pick (Jalen Duren) to Kemba Walker in order to dump his contract. Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks got shipped to the Detroit Pistons on Monday to free up even more space. That's a lot of moves to make in order to acquire one player who has never been an All-Star.
During the 2021-22 season, Brunson set career-highs in points (16.3), assists (4.8), rebounds (3.9) and minutes (31.9) per game. But none of those numbers would blow anyone away. His PER (17.14) was actually lower than his career-best from the 2020-21 season (17.19) and only ranked 61st in the NBA. He also shot 50.2 percent from the field, but his three-point percentage dropped to 37.3 this season from a high of 40.5 last year.
Now, I know Brunson defenders will point to his postseason numbers from this year. And yes, he did score 21.6 points per game for a Mavs team that reached the Western Conference Finals. But his field goal (46.6) and 3-point (34.7) percentages dropped, as did his assists (3.7 per game).
Brunson is, in all likelihood, going to be the next point guard of the Knicks. He's a fine player and a solid addition, but for some reason the franchise is rolling out the red carpet like he's the team's next star. I'm not sure he moves the needle for New York in the Eastern Conference.