Saturday, August 6, 2022

NBA probes former Mavericks’ Jalen Brunson: report

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Jalen Brunson, ex-Dallas Mavericks, signed Free agency opened on day one with the New York Knicks for $104 million on June 30. Even at that point, it was a foregone conclusion that he would go there. Numerous previous reports indicated that he signed with the Knickerbockers.

Things were pretty weird during Brunson’s first press conference with the Knicks to introduce him. In typical James Dolan fashion, almost all mediums were disallowed, only those that worked for the team. It opened up speculation that the Knicks were trying to avoid questions that they might have somehow illegally recruited Brunson before the team was allowed to.

As early as June 2, the Knicks hired Rick Brunson, Jalen’s father, as an assistant coach. Speculations could indicate that in this case, illegal dialogue is already taking place in formulating a plan to bring the former Mavericks guard to the Big Apple. Another incident happened in April, during Mavs Game 1 vs. the Jazz. Knicks executive vice president William Wesley was seen seated on the sidelines during the game.

Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that the NBA officially opened an investigation on Aug. 1 over speculation that the Knicks rigged the Brunson acquisition process.

There are just too many signs that the Knicks are violating collective bargaining rules. It would be shocking if the Knicks got away scot-free, especially given the bad luck they always seem to have faced.

Unsurprisingly, this isn’t the first rodeo for the NBA to investigate teams to determine if they manipulated players before the free agent moratorium began.

Just last summer, Chicago lost a second-round pick after the NBA discovered they had rigged their point guard Lonzo Ball’s signing. The same thing happened to Miami with Kyle Lowry as they also lost a second-round pick.

In 2020, Milwaukee maliciously negotiated a failed signing and trade deal for Bogdan Bogdanovic with Sacramento. They also gave up a second-round pick.

Looking at the trend in offenders over the past few summers, it doesn’t look like teams stopped recruiting players before the legal deadline. With today’s technology, it’s pretty easy for anyone to communicate discreetly, as Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannis mentioned in 2019.

All of this could have been avoided if the Mavericks had simply offered an extension that was a lot cheaper than the maximum deal Brunson got with the Knicks.

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported that the Mavericks refused to offer Brunson a four-year extension worth $55.5 million before last season.

Instead, Dallas offered the extension right after the Feb. 10 trading deadline, and at that point Brunson and his reps were uninterested in talking about the future.

“I told him it was as soon as the season started,” says Rick Brunson. “I told the Mavericks, ‘Once the season starts, there will be no more contract talks,’ and I’ve broken my word. In January I thought he had done enough where he deserved it [the extension]. I said, “Hey, take the money, man.” He wants security. He wants to live here. And they refused.

‘He didn’t s- refuse. You declined first. When you all came back to him, we were like, ‘Hey, we just want to finish the season and go from there.'”

Dallas needs to kick himself for making that mistake. But the team moves quickly and traded for Christian Wood and have already done so dialogue started towards an extension.

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