I don’t have anything against Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson. People like him are foregone conclusions. You gather a group of basketball players on a contending team and one of them will become Jalen Brunson. He’s an organized player. He’s the son of a coach and former player, Rick Brunson. Everything about him can taken at face value.
Jalen Brunson is not a leading hell-raiser. If we show up to the Barclays Center with Jalen Brunson, Kyrie isn’t going to sit home and blame it on his lack of vaccine card. Kevin Durant isn’t going to decide to tweet at a Twitter user and get in trouble for it. Jalen Brunson is also not a bore that contributes to a middling team, like Chris Duhon. He’s more effective — a better shooter and scorer — than a former Knicks player like Raymond Felton. The Dallas Mavericks guard is a solid player — his 50.2/37.3/84.0 shooting line is genuinely impressive. Last player we had that could do that only existed in NBA 2K’s create-a-player mode. He could be integral to a championship team one day. He was a good sidekick to Luka Doncic’s basketball ballet. If Doncic was Larry Bird, then Brunson was, well nobody. He was Jalen Brunson. He’s 25 years old, which presumably means he has years ahead of him.
I’ve seen Jalen Brunson-like players come to the Knicks often. David Lee was good, unassuming, and became a fan favorite for his consistency. The most games the Knicks won was 33 with him as the best player. We’ve had stopgaps, especially at the point guard position, our whole lives as Knicks fans. I haven’t seen a bona fide star at the position since Marbury and even he was on his way to becoming the comedic pariah that he is now. Part of being a Knicks fan is to understand that while Jim Dolan is terrible, we’ve also been unlucky with the draft, free agency, and all of the above. Even when we were able to splash on a star Free Agent, it was a second-tier star like Amar’e Stoudemire and even Carmelo Anthony. In a league where teams like the Celtics have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Knicks don’t have any players that are like that. Signing Brunson would be another line of cynical moves that gets us to seventh place again.
I want the Knicks to try to aim higher than that. They’re right that they need a game-changing guard. Brunson isn’t that. Signing his Dad, who was allegedly to have harassed women when he was the Timberwolves’ assistant, to be an assistant coach won’t change that either. Brunson is a good player. He isn’t that much better than Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett for the amount of money that he is going to receive if we do sign him. Quickley, while not being perfect, is an excitable player. One that is polarizing because of his ability to shoot, get the crowd to its feet, and also be awfully messy and chaotic at times. RJ Barrett handled a tough season with the grace and leadership that people hoped Julius Randle would. Adding Jalen Brunson to that doesn’t strike me as something that is going to move the needle of success that a team like the Knicks need. It’s also not an ambitious move either.
Purdue guard Jaden Ivey is a chance at a superstar talent in the draft. There have been rumors that the Knicks might trade up to get him. I support that. That is a move that is going to be talked about. People will be taken aback. The Knicks shouldn’t be boring. If Donovan Mitchell doesn’t inspire me to pray for his talent to come here, then I’m actively hoping the Knicks don’t go for Brunson.