All Signs Point To the Knicks Pursuing Jalen Brunson In The 2022 NBA Draft

Many top picks left out from the 2022 NBA Draft

On the surface, the 2022 NBA draft night was remarkable for what didn’t happen. Kyrie Irving was not traded. Neither did John Collins, Dejounte Murray, or any of the top ten selections.

The pre-draft buzz that there would be a lot of wheeling and dealing, even at the top of the draft, mostly disappeared after the first ten picks.

We still had two surprises among the first four picks, but not nearly as much action as we were led to think.

The Knicks ended up trading the 11th pick, which was used on French wing Ousmane Dieng, to the Thunder for three conditional future first-round picks. 

Commissioner Adam Silver announced during the draft, amid reports, that they desperately tried to pry Ivey, the Purdue superstar guard, away from the Pistons, who took him with the fifth pick.

The Pistons, Wizards, and Nuggets all have lottery-protected picks in the 2023 draft, according to The Athletic. The Wizards’ pick is protected in the top-14, and the Pistons’ pick conveys if it is not in the top 18.

They then acquired Memphis center Jalen Duren from the Hornets in exchange for several future picks—the Nuggets’ 2023 first-rounder and four future second-rounders—and traded him to the Pistons along with Kemba Walker to free up just around $9 million in salary-cap space.

As part of the deal with the Pistons, the Knicks gained the Bucks’ top-four protected first-round pick in 2025. Over the next seven years, the Knicks will have 11 first-round picks and 11 second-round picks.

According to ESPN cap expert and former Nets executive Bobby Marks, the moves will leave the Knicks with $104 million in guaranteed contracts and a cap of $122 million. To sign Brunson, the Knicks are expected to have to spend around $25 million under the salary cap.

Duren, Westchester one-and-done shooting guard AJ Griffin, and fellow Duke star Mark Williams were all available when the Knicks were originally scheduled to pick 11th. Instead, they took Dieng and quickly dealt with him, prompting loud boos from Knicks fans at Barclays Center.

When word got out that they were landing and shipping Duren to the Pistons, some speculated that it could be for Ivey, but that didn’t happen.

Ivey clarified on Monday that he would be “honored” to play for the Knicks and that they were one franchise he could see himself joining. When questioned about the rumors, he stated: “My agents controlled all that.”

Instead of Ivey, the Knicks started to position themselves to sign Brunson, a former Villanova star who had a breakout season with the Mavericks.

The New York Post’s Marc Berman previously reported that the Knicks planned to pursue the pending free agent in the hope that he would be the answer to their long search for a point guard and difference-maker to complement R.J. Barrett in the backcourt.

It remains to be seen whether the Knicks can entice Brunson, 25, away from the Mavericks. He is coming off a career year in which he averaged 16.3 points and 4.8 assists per game and was a postseason breakout star, averaging 21.6 points per game.

Brunson stepped up when star Luka Doncic was injured at the start of the playoffs, scoring 41 points in a Game 2 win over the Jazz in the first round.

Dallas owner Mark Cuban has stated his urge to keep Brunson, citing the Mavericks’ ability to pay him more than other teams.

Cuban stated this after the Mavericks were eliminated from the playoffs in late May, “I think he wants to stay, and that’s most important.”

However, the Knicks recently hired Brunson’s father, Rick, to join coach Tom Thibodeau’s staff and can offer him a starting point guard position.

Team president Leon Rose, of course, represented Brunson at Creative Artists Agency before joining the Knicks, and Rose’s son Sam is currently Brunson’s agent. If the Knicks can land their former client, common sense would suggest Leon Rose has an idea.

Essentially, that was the crux of the Knicks’ first-round pick on Thursday night: they couldn’t get Ivey, but they may have helped themselves in their pursuit of Brunson by adding more assets