CAA Brunson

The Latest Stroke of Mediocrity Courtesy of the Knicks

Former Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson agreed to a four-year $104 million dollar contact with New York within minutes of the NBA’s free agency. The Knicks have been looking for a starting caliber PG for what feels like my entire lifetime. On one level, I totally understand why the Knicks felt like they needed to do this. Brunson is young enough to keep improving and his numbers when Luka wasn’t playing alongside him are appetizing: 22.3 PPG and 7.5 Assists per 75 possessions. Theoretically, Brunson is the perfect pick up for a team that’s as starved for quality PG play as the Knicks have been.

The problem with the Knicks is that everything positive is theoretical, and the reality is often disappointing.

Unless Jalen Brunson averages the numbers I provided above, this contract will not age well. I understand that in a vacuum, the deal isn’t so bad. Brunson’s annual value puts him as the 14th highest paid PG in basketball, he could very easily live up to that and be a fringe top 10 PG during his tenure as a New York Knick. My problem with the Brunson signing isn’t the player himself, it’s the lengths the Knicks went to “win” the Jalen Brunson sweepstakes.

It starts at the top. Leon Rose, the president of the Knicks, was Rick Brunson’s (Jalen’s dad) agent. Rick Brunson was brought onto the Knicks coaching staff this offseason. Leon Rose’s son is Jalen Brunson’s agent. It’s no wonder the Knicks are reportedly being investigated for tampering. The reason I am pointing out all these connections is that they all amounted to the Knicks being able to sign an above average, undersized point guard. Not a superstar, not a star…a quality starter. This is where the Knicks are as a franchise. They needed layers of connections to land Jalen Brunson. This is not an indictment on Brunson, he very well could live up to, and even exceed his contract, but this is really the best the Knicks can do? I think it is.

The positive outlook on this is now the Knicks have an “exciting” young core. Brunson, RJ Barret, Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin, Cam Reddish and Immanuel Quickley are all 25 or under. Julius Randle is only 27. The reality of this situation is this is one of the more underwhelming young cores in basketball. It lacks star potential outside of RJ and him becoming a number one or two option on a quality team is optimistic at best, currently. Randle has most likely peaked and has a noted attitude issue. Obi Toppin has tantalizing athletic potential, but he will be 24 going into his second year in the NBA. Cam Reddish was given up on by the Hawks, Robinson is always hurt, and Quickley profiles as a career second unit spark plug. Not to mention they hired a coach in Tom Thibideau, a coach who notoriously doesn’t work well with rookies or young players and wears out his welcome quickly, to oversee a predominantly young team.

Jalen Brunson is not going to be the piece that brings it all together. I would argue that he will only further cements the Knicks into the mediocrity that has marred the franchise since Patrick Ewing left in 1999, besides that brief stint of competitive teams when they traded for Carmelo Anthony. The Jalen Brunson signing is hypothetically, theoretically, possibly the move that stabilizes the Knicks. Just like Kristaps Porzingis was going to be a franchise savior, Carmelo was going to be the savior, Amar’e was going to be the savior, and how Phil Jackson was going to be the savior.

Wake me up when the Knicks get a real star or superstar, until then it’s all theoretical.



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