New York Knicks free agent acquisition Jalen Brunson made true to his promise of linking up with new teammates ahead of the NBA training camp.
Brunson teamed up with Julius Randle and Obi Toppin Monday night in the Nike Pro City playoffs before a jampacked crowd that included Knicks VP William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley at the Hostos Community College in The Bronx.
While their team lost, 110-97, the Knicks’ trio provided plenty of highlights and teased the crowd on what to expect from them next NBA season. Brunson’s chemistry with his new teammates is still a work in progress, but the trio showed much promise.
Two of the several highlight reels showed Brunson in a give-and-go with Randle and a no-look, behind-the-back pass to Toppin for a slam dunk from the baseline.
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Toppin led the losing effort with 25 points, Brunson came up with 24 while Randle finished with 18 and some heated moments against the opposing team in the second half.
Randle’s competitive fire kicked in, and Toppin was seen telling him to relax. It was just a recreational league game. But Randle took it personally when an opposing player flexed on him after an in-your-face finish.
“It’s a playoff atmosphere, New York City bragging rights on the line. Guys want to come out and leave it all on the floor, put on a good show for the city,” Nike Pro City director Bernard Bowen said after the game via New York Post.
When Brunson appeared on The Old Man and The Three last month, he said he planned to take reins early.
“I don’t want to wait for the training camp to start being vocal, being somewhat of a leader,” Brunson said. “I got to kind of take the reins early. And when I mean leader, I’m just trying to get guys on the same page. I love the fact that we can have a group of guys who are hardworking and have good chemistry if you can kind of set that tone now. I think it’d be great well before training camp starts.”
The Pro City experience was an excellent place to start for the Knicks’ trio, assuming none of them gets traded before the start of the season. Toppin and Randle have been linked to trade rumors this summer as the Knicks eye bringing three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell home without giving up too much.
While the loss to a team of amateurs left a bitter taste in the mouth, their presence alone and the highlights the Knicks’ trio has provided left the crowd craving for more and excited for the next NBA season.
“You have a lot of kids [here] who can’t afford the opportunity to go to a Knicks game, so for those guys to come and play in that atmosphere where it’s free for the kids, it’s a blessing,” Bowen said.
Brunson and his new teammates have two more months to work on their chemistry before the new season begins. NBA training camp will be in mid-September, with the preseason games following suit at the end of the month toward October.
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