DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) - Just when we thought it was all over - the Jalen Brunson free agent saga will drag on for just a little bit longer.
According to NBA insiders Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, Brunson will meet with the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Miami Heat, on the first day of NBA free agency, which begins Thursday at 5 p.m. CT.
It has been widely reported that Brunson already has an agreement in place with the Knicks on a four-year, $110 million deal. But with free agency having yet to officially begin, the meetings might be a way for Brunson and his representation to avoid a tampering investigation by the league, as some NBA insiders have already speculated on Twitter.
Alas, at the request of Brunson's camp, the Mavericks will send a large contingent to New York to try and convince him to return to Dallas, despite the organization having "scant optimism" of their chances to convince Luka Doncic's backcourt mate not to depart for the bright lights of New York, Stein reports.
Among the key personnel from the Mavs set to attend the meeting, include owner Mark Cuban, GM Nico Harrison, head coach Jason Kidd, VP of basketball operations Michael Finley, and 'maybe one or two of Jalen Brunson's teammates,' Stein adds.
The Heat's inclusion into the two-horse race is also curious, seeing as they have yet to be mentioned as a potential suitor for the point guard, nor do they have the cap space to sign Brunson to the type of big-money contract he seeks. Should they secure a commitment from Brunson, they would only be able to acquire him via sign-and-trade.
After trades of Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks and Kemba Walker, the Knicks have secured $30 million in cap space to woo Brunson to New York. It's unlikely they would have done all that work had they not had a strong indication of Brunson's intentions, seeing as his former agent, Leon Rose, is the Knicks president, and his father, Rick, is on the coaching staff.
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, the Mavericks were willing to go as high as "about $22M per year or $110M total value."
Per Haynes' report, "It would likely take somewhere close to a five-year, $125 million commitment from the Mavericks to prevent Brunson from signing with the Knicks."
Brunson was eligible to receive a five-year, $175,450,000 deal from the Mavs, but a contract of that magnitude was never going to be offered.
According to MacMahon, Dallas could have sewn up a four-year, $55.5 million contract extension with Brunson before the season, but they didn't offer him a deal after he struggled in the team's 2021 first-round playoff series loss to the Clippers in 2021.
Dallas also passed on making him an offer in the middle of the season after Brunson cemented himself into the starting lineup for good following his stellar play as a fill-in while Doncic was injured.
The fourth-year guard responded by parlaying a breakout regular season (career-high 16.3 points per game) into an even better postseason, averaging 21.6 points throughout the Mavs’ playoff run.