Knicks Get Surprise Update on Potential $160 Million Jalen Brunson Contract

Knicks star Jalen Brunson

Getty Knicks star Jalen Brunson

The Knicks will begin their 2024 NBA playoff run on Saturday and that, of course, is the focus for the time being. But realistically, there is a ceiling on how far this team can go as currently constructed and thus, it’s never too early to consider what might be next for the MSG denizens.

While there is ample speculation about trade targets and potential big-time acquisitions the Knicks could make, those are mostly just speculation at this point. The very real issue that the team does need to handle this summer is a contract for star guard Jalen Brunson.

And a recent update from team insider Ian Begley of SNY suggests that there could be some good news for the Knicks when it comes to locking up their leading scorer long-term.

“What I’ve heard is that [Jalen Brunson] doesn’t really care about being a headline, money-making player as a free agent,” Begley said on his podcast, “The Putback.”

“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. They’re open to it, but there are other factors at play beyond the money that will come into it.”

Knicks Could Offer $150 Million Contract This Summer

Brunson has been an even bigger impact player than the Knicks could have hoped for when they signed him to a four-year, $100 million contract back in 2022. He averaged 28.7 points this season, on 47.9% shooting and 40.1% 3-point shooting, with 6.7 assists. He was the No. 4 leading scorer in the NBA this year.

Because Brunson has two years remaining on his contract (at $25 million per year), and because he can opt out after next season, he is eligible for an extension now. It is not a pressing matter, since the Knicks have him under contract for next season no matter what, but locking him up sooner rather than later would be helpful.

Brunson can sign for four years and about $150-160 million in this coming offseason. He could wait, though, and be eligible for five years and $250-260 million. Thus it would come as a surprise if he took the smaller deal in the short term rather than waiting.

“They’re gonna try to max him out as soon as they can this summer,” one league source told Heavy Sports. “He has a $100 million decision coming. Sign now for $150 million or wait and sign for $250 million. It is a nice problem to have but it is not a slam-dunk which way he’ll go.”

Jalen Brunson Has Shown Star Chops With Julius Randle Out

But Begley’s sources indicate that the decision for Brunson might be to forgo waiting around for extra money and instead take what would be a relative “bargain” for the Knicks. Brunson’s decision would could down to taking on $40 million per year in the short term or waiting for $52 million per year.

New York would certainly offer the $150-ish million max this summer. There’s no guarantee, though, that the Knicks would offer him the max in 2025, especially if the team flops in the playoffs again this season.

There is pressure on Brunson to carry the load, as star forward Julius Randle will be out for the duration of the postseason with a shoulder injury. But he has shown he is up for the challenge. Since Randle went out on January 27, Brunson has averaged 31.5 points, up from 26.6 before Randle’s injury.