Brunson’s departure left a big void and contributed to the Mavericks’ 10-11 start. In a sign of desperation, they signed the ineffective player Brunson replaced in the Knicks’ starting lineup. As it turns out, the Knicks were right in shutting down Kemba Walker last season. His arthritic knee remains a problem, and he has been ruled out to make his season debut with the Mavericks against the Knicks.
So it will be all eyes on Brunson, the Mavericks’ second-best player behind Luka Doncic in their Western Conference Finals run last season, in the Saturday matinee.
“At the end of the day, when you step in those lines, you just go out there and compete, no matter who you are against. So it’s the same approach, same mentality and it’s just playing against [a] former team.”Jalen Brunson via SNY
The Mavericks twice botched their chance to retain Brunson.
They lowballed him with a four-year, $55 million extension even after a rock-solid start to last season, averaging 16.4 and 5.2 assists in November followed by 18.3 points and 6.2 assists in December.
Brunson continued his meteoric rise and peaked in the playoffs when he led the Mavericks to two wins in the first round without Luka Doncic.
It was too late for the Mavericks.
Their reported five-year, $106 million offer was no match to the four-year, $104 million deal Brunson signed with the Knicks. On top of that, he got the chance to run his team, something he would never get as long as Doncic is in Dallas, and got reunited with his father, Rick, Leon Rose, William Wesley, and Tom Thibodeau, who are all part of his extended family.
Brunson was as good as advertised.
He’s become the best Knicks point guard in decades. The early returns of what was deemed an overpay is a borderline All-Star guard.
He’s leading the Knicks in scoring (21.3), assists (6.5) and steals (1.1), all career highs. What’s only missing is consistent winning.
The 10-12 Knicks have won games they’re supposed to win with the exception of two — a 145-135 home loss to a young Oklahoma City Thunder team last month and a heartbreaker against Damian Lillard-less Portland Trail Blazers last week. And they also lost most of the games they don’t have business winning. But they have been competitive in some of them, including a tough 109-103 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks last Wednesday.
A struggling Mavericks team, who have lost five of their last six games with their latest an embarrassing 131-125 overtime loss in Detroit, presents an opportunity for the Knicks to climb back to .500.
They would need Brunson’s revenge game.
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