In the NBA, teams treasure information. They build huge staffs of scouting and stock the front office with executives to work the phones, finding every detail for the slightest advantage.
And then there are the Knicks, whose interest in Jalen Brunson in the coming free-agent market has been an open secret. Their intel on his intentions basically comes from the dinner table.
His father, Rick Brunson, was just added to the Knicks’ coaching staff in a role he served under Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota. The elder Brunson was the first client for Leon Rose in his days as an agent. And Jalen’s agent, Sam Rose, is the son of Leon, the Knicks’ president.
It certainly would seem that the Knicks have the information advantage and know exactly where they are headed, especially after a draft day Thursday spent shedding salary to make room under the cap for a run at Brunson.
He flourished in Dallas and can provide the Knicks a much-needed steady hand at point guard. The soon-to-be 26-year-old can score and run an offense.
With a painful history of free-agent pursuits that ended in heartbreak — a very visible reminder with Kyrie Irving now pushing himself back into the picture Thursday by leaking a list of teams, including the Knicks, that he would consider working with to facilitate a sign-and-trade — the Knicks had better not come up empty this summer after the machinations they went through.
The Knicks traded their No. 11 overall lottery pick (and kept that salary off their books) while bringing back three conditional 2023 first-round picks. They then turned one of those picks and four second-round picks to Charlotte to obtain Jalen Duren, who was picked at No. 13. The Knicks shipped Duren with Kemba Walker to Detroit for a 2025 Milwaukee first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-4).
Rose, as has been his pattern, did not speak with the media, but on Friday afternoon, the team released a statement from him.
“Last night, we made three trades involving draft picks, which resulted in increased financial flexibility and additional draft capital moving forward,” Rose said. “We now have a total of 22 picks, 11 in the first round and 11 in the second round over the next seven years. We have the ability to be active in free agency, as well as in the trade market. Our focus will remain to be strategic and thoughtful in our team building, doing it the right way, while feeding off of the momentum from the end of last season and prioritizing our player development program.”
Put aside that Brunson once was the 33rd pick in the 2018 draft — selected 25 spots after the Knicks took Kevin Knox — and you’d like to think the Knicks could find someone that good on a rookie deal at No. 11 rather than having to use assets to clear cap space on contracts that this front office handed out last summer.
The Knicks still may have to maneuver around the cap, trying to unload a contract — Nerlens Noel or Alec Burks are the most likely — and will need to attach assets to do that.
If Brunson is the signing that results from that maneuvering, the Knicks will have to hope that outside of Dallas, where he served as a second option behind Luka Doncic, he can continue his path forward.
He averaged a career-high 16.3 points per game this season and excelled in the postseason, averaging 21.6 points and 3.7 assists.