‘Not a single’ added emotion – The Denver Post


It’s the new way of media relations to pretend animosity doesn’t exist and emotions are limited to excited and confident. So even as Jalen Brunson tries to downplay his first game against the Mavericks, there are reasons to suspect it’s highly personal on both sides.

Forget, for a moment, the ongoing tampering investigation against the Knicks (more on that later). From the Mavericks’ perspective, Brunson’s departure has been cited as the leading reason for the team’s disappointing start to this campaign. They haven’t replaced Brunson’s offense, and the guard play next to Luka Doncic has been so insufficient that Dallas took a flier on Kemba Walker.

There’s also the reality of Brunson declining to give the Mavericks an opportunity to counter the Knicks offer in the offseason, which prompted GM Nico Harrison to tell the Dallas Morning News recently, “Us not re-signing Jalen wasn’t our choice.”

From a different view, Harrison’s statement is flawed and selective. The Mavs had a chance to extend Brunson in the summer of 2021 but didn’t believe in him enough to offer just four years and $55 million. Then Brunson produced above expectations – especially during the 2022 playoffs – and, according to a source, turned down a five-year, $106 million offer from Dallas before bolting to the Knicks.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s MSG matinee against his former team, Brunson acknowledged he still thinks about how his life would be different if Dallas offered that extension in 2021.

He didn’t want to answer whether the Mavs “did everything” to re-sign him.

“Next question.”

So are there any added emotions about playing the Mavericks?

“Not a single one, nah,” he said.

Like the Mavericks (10-11), the Knicks (10-12) are disappointments at the season’s quarter pole. But that doesn’t fall on Brunson, whose positive play has provided team president Leon Rose cover for all his poor moves. Originally viewed as an overpay, the four-year, $104 million investment is now the best deal in the lineup.

Brunson said he’s unfit to answer whether he’s proven deserving of the contract.

“That is not up to me,” he said. “Good question though.

“Throughout my entire life and basketball career there’s always been narratives,” he added. “Just I’m trying to create my own.”

A backdrop to Saturday’s game is the NBA’s tampering investigation that remains unresolved after nearly five months. It’s a complicated situation because Brunson’s father, Rick, is not only a Knicks assistant coach but a longtime family friend of team president Leon Rose. On top of everything else, Rose’s son is Jalen Brunson’s agent. As the Daily News reported, at least one member of the Knicks staff had their cell phone confiscated by the NBA.

If found guilty of tampering, the Knicks could lose draft compensation as punishment. A league spokesman said Friday that there’s no update in the investigation.

“At the appropriate time, I think Leon will make a statement,” Thibodeau said Friday. “But let everyone do their job. So, that’s the way we’re approaching it. We feel very good about the way we went about things.”

Brunson is equally confident about his team’s innocence.

“I haven’t thought about it, I don’t consider it as hovering over me,” the point guard said. “Like I said before, nothing was tampered with.”

However the signing transpired, it has worked out a lot better for the Knicks than the Mavericks.

“I made a decision,” Brunson said. “I made my bed, I got to lay in it.”


Despite officially signing with the Mavericks on Tuesday, Kemba Walker won’t debut Saturday at MSG as Dallas GM Nico Harrison painted a bleak picture of the point guard’s arthritic knee.

“It’s not good. It’s not good at all,” Harrison told a radio station in Dallas. “But he’s rehabbed it and it’s the best he felt in the last two years. So we’ll see how long that lasts.”

Walker was signed by the Knicks before last season for $18 million but was quickly removed from the rotation and left the team at the All-Star break



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