Jalen Brunson was extremely well paid and ended up in his preferred destination, but the process wasn’t to his liking.
“The free hand was kind of awful how public it’s gotten,” the Knicks’ new point guard said.
Brunson said many things that were reported were not true, although he declined to go into details. After spending the first four years of his career with the Mavericks, he signed a four-year, $104 million contract with the Knicks, joining former agent and current team president Leon Rose and his father, Rick Brunson, who was added as an assistant coaching Tom Thibodeau’s staff in June. The NBA is currently investigating the Knicks for tampering, but Brunson said the league has not contacted him.
“My reaction to the League investigation? I didn’t really have one,” said the 26-year-old southpaw, who earned the big payday after breaking through in the postseason in which he averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists. “Nothing really to investigate.”
Playing for the Knicks will be an all-round experience. As a young boy growing up in southern New Jersey, Brunson attended Knicks games at the Garden—Rick played for them—and he spent a lot of time with Thibodeau and Derrick Rose when they were with the Bulls and Rick was an assistant coach . Now they are all part of the same organization.
“It’s just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Brunson said, referring specifically to his father, who coached him with the Knicks. “You only see that in movies and stuff. I am very happy that he is on the bench.”
Knicks fans are just as excited for Brunson, who they hope can answer the franchise’s point guard drought. Despite his big contract, Brunson doesn’t think he has any extra production pressure. He will not change his preparation or mentality.
“I think I said that a while ago, I’m not a savior in any way, shape or form,” he said. “I just want to be able to contribute to a team, try to help that team win games.”
Unlike Brunson, Mitchell Robinson had a blast at freehand compared to his NBA draft experience. When he found out about the Knicks’ offer, Robinson was on the beach celebrating his decision to sign a four-year, $60 million deal by going swimming.
“I feel like they basically showed me some loyalty,” the 7-footer said. “With that, I have to come out here and play at a level, which is why [brought me back].”
Robinson talked about expanding his offensive game by adding a jump hook and a baby jumper to his repertoire of rim runs and shot blockers. However, his immediate focus is on improving his free throw shooting and conditioning.
“I don’t feel like I’ve proven myself yet. I still have a lot to do,” said Robinson. “I still have much to do.”