When the curtain dropped on the Dallas Mavericks’ Western Conference finals run in Game 5, Jalen Brunson’s free agency immediately became the topic of discussion.
In Friday’s exit interviews, Nico Harrison explained that re-signing Brunson was Dallas’ top priority this offseason. And in an interview with Bally Sports Southwest, team owner Mark Cuban doubled down on Harison’s initial notion, claiming he believes Brunson is eager to stay in Dallas.
“We can pay him more than anybody. I think he wants to stay, and that’s most important,” Cuban said. “[Jason] Kidd has a big part to play in that. JB blossomed as a player as much as anyone on the squad. From where he was last year to how far he’s come this year is a tribute to Jalen and how hard he’s worked and the support he’s got and what he was able to learn from J Kidd.”
“We can pay him more than anybody…I think he wants to stay and that’s most important.”@mcuban talks to @TheSteinLine about the Mavericks chances of re-signing @jalenbrunson1 this offseason. pic.twitter.com/FnOV9LTagO
— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) May 27, 2022
Brunson’s impending free agency
Brunson became the full-time starter, alongside Luka Doncic in the backcourt, in late December. The Mavericks quickly went on a blistering run shortly after his insertion. Brunson averaged 16.3 points per game and 4.8 assists in the 61 games that he started during the 2021-22 season.
In the playoffs, Brunson took his game to another level. He averaged 32 points in games where Doncic didn’t play. And he even tallied a career-high 41 points against the Utah Jazz in Game 2 of the NBA’s opening-round series, thwarting off Utah’s attempt to take a 2-0 series lead.
In 18 playoff games, Brunson averaged 21.6 points and 3.7 assists. He also had 11 games with at least 20 points scored.
He built his playoff resume, and as a result, he’s going to command a top-rate salary come free agency.
ESPN projected Brunson’s salary floor to be a four-year $75 million contract, according to Bobby Marks. Meanwhile, others report that Brunson could earn as much as $25 million a year, thanks to his playoff heroics.
Despite the praise, Brunson remains level-headed in his approach to one of the most important decisions of his career.
“When it’s time, it’s time,” Brunson said. “When it happens, it happens. I’m not worried about it right now.”
Brunson may not want to tip his hand regarding his free agency decision, but it’s evident that he is a part of the future Dallas envisions for itself next season. It’s also clear that Cuban is willing to cut a blank check to bring him back.
Dallas can offer Brunson the most money. And after a Western Conference finals run, where Dallas pushed Golden State in nearly every game, the organization can also offer him a chance to win a championship. Not many teams in the NBA can say the same.
“JB about to get that bag,” Dorian Finney-Smith said.
Brunson will, no doubt.
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Feature image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.