Since inking a four-year, $104 million deal with the New York Knicks last offseason, Jalen Brunson has proved himself worth every penny. Still, he fell short of his first career All-Star nod.
With Kyrie Irving’s February 5 trade to the Western Conference’s Dallas Mavericks from the Brooklyn Nets, there was some hope that Irving’s All-Star spot in the Eastern Conference would open, but Spotrac’s Keith Smith told Heavy Sports that he did not see the trade impacting Brunson’s viability.
“I don’t think the NBA is going to do anything with Kyrie being traded. I think they’ll just say it doesn’t matter,” Smith said.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News initially suggested that Irving could take the place of Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who is expected to miss the game with a left leg injury, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Despite Brunson’s impressive averages of 23.1 points, 6.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds on 47.3% shooting from the floor and 40.4% shooting from deep, Keith Smith projected that the numbers won’t be enough to place Brunson on the Eastern Conference roster.
Jalen Brunson’s Teammate Upset That He Isn’t an All-Star
The Knicks will be represented on the All-Star team by big man Julius Randle, who will be a reserve player on the Eastern Conference roster. Randle said the selection, the second in his career, “means a lot” to him but said Brunson should be joining him.
“Obviously, it’s a huge honor, man. It’s a lot that goes into it,” Randle told reporters February 2 after the Knicks’ win over the Miami Heat. “A lot of trust and belief in myself and the people around me … Only thing that really sucks is that I think Jalen should be right here with me.”
Knicks Trade Target a Buyout Option
On January 19, SNY’s Ian Begley suggested that the Knicks should look into a replacement option for Mitchell Robinson following his sustaining a thumb injury on January 18. In specific, he suggested Serge Ibaka as a plausible option to consider.
However, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus predicted Ibaka would be buyout candidate.
“How much does Serge Ibaka have left to offer?” Pincus wrote on February 6. “He and the Bucks have agreed to part ways, but can he help a contender if no trade evolves? At 33, he’s certainly experienced, now in his 14th season. Last year, Ibaka split time with the Bucks and Clippers, contributing 16.2 minutes a game. A playoff team wouldn’t be looking for much more, just an experienced veteran to fill spot minutes.”
Throughout his 14-year NBA tenure, Ibaka has impressive career averages of 12.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game on 51.3% shooting from the floor and 35.9% shooting from deep.
A three-time All-Defensive selection, two-time blocks champion and a player who played a pivotal role for the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors, Ibaka’s style fits the mold for a Tom Thibodeau-led club and, with the Knicks’ lack of rim protectors behind the oft-injured Mitchell Robinson, he could prove to be a quality addition for the club, be it by way of trade or the buyout market.