When the New York Knicks signed former Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson in the offseason, there were a lot of questions about how the team was going to perform. They’ve exceeded all possible expectations, clinching a playoff berth with two games left to spare and getting an amazing season out of Brunson in the process.
As for the Mavericks, things are not looking so great. The team is currently 38-41 and sitting out of the play-in despite acquiring Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline. Mavs star Luka Doncic spoke to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and described the feeling that has been present in Dallas without Brunson.
Doncic said he is missed “a lot” and added, “I mean, amazing guy, amazing player, for sure.”
Doncic added that the on-court chemistry between him and his teammates has not felt the same as it did last season. Along with letting Brunson go, the Mavericks traded away key pieces Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith at this year’s trade deadline.
[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”1622552″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]
The Mavericks are facing the repercussions of no Brunson:
Brunson was a key component to the Mavs’ successful run last season that saw the team reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011 (they would win the NBA championship that season). He averaged 16.3 points per game in the regular season and 21.6 points in the postseason.
That phenomenal playoff run paved the way for Brunson to be paid $104 million over four years by the Knicks, who in his first full season in the Big Apple, is averaging a career-high 24 points per game and 6.2 assists and is shooting a career-high 41.6% from three-point range, and ranks third on the Most Improved Player ladder.
Brunson’s stellar growth has catapulted the Knicks into a competitive playoff team, and his departure from Dallas has sunk the Mavericks into an abyss of struggles.
Evidently, the Mavericks are regretting the organizational decision to let an ascending young player in Brunson walk in free agency, and are now forced to pivot their mindset towards the lottery rather than compete this season, and a grueling rebuild could potentially follow after this season as a result.
The Knicks, meanwhile, are flourishing. Along with the playoff appearance, they own the Mavericks’ draft pick in this upcoming draft, and the pick stays out of the top 10, New York will have themselves another lottery pick that could be used as potential trade bait to further improve the team.
Like most trades and free agency signings, one side of the transaction benefits while the other side suffers. Unfortunately for Dallas, what was thought to be another competitive season despite the loss of Brunson has turned into a lost cause, and it appears they will be in for a long road to recovery.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_