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Monday, June 24, 2024

Jalen Brunson Reportedly Considering Giving Knicks $100 Million Discount

  • If he decides to extend his contract this year instead of next, he could save the team more than $100 million. 
  • Reporters who cover the team say he’s more inclined to sign early and spare the team those dollars.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Brunson is undoubtedly the face of the current Knicks squad and the central figure in their recent success. His four-year, $104 million deal he signed in the summer of 2022 is one of the best bargains in recent NBA history, and the diminutive guard is due a massive raise. That raise is coming, either this summer or next, but a staggering report this week indicated that Brunson may take an earlier payday and ultimately save the Knicks a hefty chunk of change.

More than $100 million, to be exact.

Two Knicks beat reporters, Steve Popper from Newsday and Ian Begley of SNY, have reported that Brunson is more inclined to build toward a successful franchise than increase his own earnings. Let’s break down the details:

  • Brunson just finished two years of a four-year, $107 million deal.
  • The point guard is eligible to sign a four-year, $156 million contract extension that would go into effect after the end of next season.
  • If he were to wait until next summer, he’d be able to sign a five-year, $270 million extension.

The Knicks fell just short of glory this year, with significant injuries coming to a head in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to keep them from advancing to their first conference finals since 2000. Brunson’s apparent interest in preserving the team’s flexibility could finally get the team over that hump.

“All indications are he won’t hold the team up now, and that he’s willing to sign a four-year, $156 million contract extension,” Popper wrote Monday. That would, if you’re pocket-watching at home, be more than $100 million below the extension he could possibly sign instead in the summer of 2025.

It seems hard to believe that Brunson would intentionally sacrifice that much money, but it does track with previous reporting about his plans.

“From just right now what I had heard is he doesn’t really care about being a headline, money-making player as a free agent,” Begley said of Brunson on his show in April. “He’s not caught up in that stuff. He likes it here; he really wants to see this organization keep going in this direction and to have success with him here.”

Brunson has significant family ties to the Knicks. One of his agents, Sam Rose, is the son of team president Leon Rose. And Brunson’s father, Rick, is an assistant on Tom Thibodeau’s staff. When Rick Brunson was playing in the NBA, Leon Rose was just beginning his meteoric rise as an agent, and Brunson was his first client. (Rose eventually went on to rep superstar players like LeBron James and Joel Embiid before taking over the Knicks.)

Brunson’s potential discount would give the Knicks significantly more salary cap flexibility to make trades and sign other players around him. Plus, with the NBA currently in the midst of media-rights negotiations, the salary cap is likely to increase, giving teams even more room to pay players. Given those negotiations, Brunson could consider throwing in an option to opt out of a smaller contract in the coming years, letting the team build around him sooner while ensuring he could also benefit from a media-rights driven boost to the cap.

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