Jalen Brunson is officially signing with the New York Knicks. We know this, because ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that he agreed to terms on a four-year, $104 million deal. The last several days have been strange, to say the least, with information leaking out a bit at a time, then stories changing during the process.
It’s challenging, at this point, to see how there wasn’t blatant tampering involved in the process to sign Jalen Brunson. The sheer volume of reports and information that reporters could confirm indicate that a deal was done well before the start of free agency, which is currently not allowed under NBA rules. The NBA may look the other way with some slight rules skirting, but everyone in the basketball world knew this deal was done Wednesday morning if not earlier. It was everywhere, from Tim Cato to Tim MacMahon.
Which lead, of course, to the counter reports. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported a story that said their would be meetings with Brunson and both teams, and oh by the way the Heat might be involved. The Heat quickly denied any such interest or meetings. Then Brunson’s people cancelled the meeting they set as a means to distract from the rule breaking, thus confirming considerable rule breaking. It got so silly that two and a half hours before the official #WojBomb, Wojnarowski shared this:
Free agent guard Jalen Brunson, armed with a five-year, $106M-plus Mavericks offer, is headed into a meeting with the New York Knicks within the hour, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2022
Only it seemed that offer Brunson had from the Mavericks? They claim it was never officially offered. Shams Charania reported that no offer had been made by the Mavericks. Marc Stein also confirmed that Dallas did not make an official offer. It became a circus that wasn’t any fun.
It’s worth noting that everyone involved from the Knicks side of things, including Jalen Brunson, Leon Rose, Adrian Wojnarowski, and others have direct ties to the agency CAA. Weird things are afoot during every free agent courting, Brunson may have decided on the Knicks long ago, and yet there’s something about the rather blatant disregard of the rules by New York that even other teams found it off-putting, at least according to Fred Katz of the Athletic on the Mavs Moneyball Podcast.
At the moment I find myself simply profoundly disappointed. Not with any one person, like I usually am. Rather, this whole thing stinks. There’ve been leaks from Brunson’s camp that he wanted even more opportunities, and situations that have the slightest bit of jealousy ultimately make me a bit sad. We were led to believe the vibes were immaculate and to find out later that they might not have been sullies an element of last season just so.
Ultimately, Brunson has to do what’s best for him. While we’re sure to circle back to the fact that Dallas clearly had a price point that was too much to pay for Brunson, all reports also seem to indicate that the Knicks were an easy choice for him.
I know that I’ll miss his steady presence. It’s funny... longtime readers and listeners to our podcasts know that I placed an unfair amount of blame on Brunson for his decision-making. One friend told me for the better part of two years that it wasn’t that Brunson couldn’t play make, it’s that Rick Carlisle told him his role was to score. And what do you know, under Jason Kidd, Brunson took a leap that we all got to watch in real time. His performances in the Utah series and against the Suns are ones I’ll remember for the rest of my days. He is a special player and it simply stinks that it had to end with this level of odd feelings and weirdly timed and sourced reports that make it hard to know what to believe really happened here.
Onward Jalen Brunson, we’ll miss watching you play.