Former Teammate Sounds Off on New Knicks Guard: ‘I’d Have Been Mad if He Stayed’

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks

Getty Jalen Brunson and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks react during the second quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Though Jalen Brunson may find himself gearing up for his first season as a member of the New York Knicks, reporters couldn’t help but bring up his name at media day for his former club, the Dallas Mavericks.

In a September 26 tweet by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, he revealed that when Brunson’s former teammate Dorian Finney-Smith was asked about his feelings on the point guard’s departure this summer, he mentioned that he was actually happy to see him go, even joking that he would have been mad if he were to have turned down New York’s offer.

“Man, you saw how much money they gave him? I’d have been mad if he stayed here.”

After having a career-best season with the Mavericks in 2021-22, posting 16.3 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.9 rebounds on 50.2% shooting from the floor and 37.3% shooting from deep, Brunson hit unrestricted free agency this past offseason and was ranked as the top available player at his position.

Long viewed as the team’s main focus on the open market, the Knicks managed to agree to an offer with the 26-year-old on opening day of free agency, signing him to a four-year, $104 million deal.


Dallas Will ‘Regret’ Not Re-signing Brunson

In an August 30 article posted by Bleacher Report, writer Greg Swartz stated that the loss of Jalen Brunson in free agency could come back to haunt the franchise moving forward, citing his impact as both a scorer and overall playmaker as a major reason why.

“Not only was Brunson second to Luka Doncic in points and assists last season, but Dallas’ net rating jumped from plus-2.8 with just Doncic on the court to plus-4.4 when both star guards were in the game,” Swartz wrote.

“If Brunson had his heart set on the New York Knicks no matter what, that’s one thing. But Dallas should have exceeded the four-year, $104 million deal he signed with them. The team was likely worried about luxury-tax implications, but the alternative was losing a player of Brunson’s caliber.

“The Mavericks should have made Brunson an offer he couldn’t refuse and looked to shed salary another way (Davis Bertans?), especially with teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers still able to absorb roughly $30 million worth of salary.”

Though Brunson has made it known that he’s happy to be a member of the Knicks and is excited to be reunited with his father Rick Brunson, who is one of Tom Thibodeau’s assistant coaches, The Athletic’s Fred Katz reported on September 26 that the fifth year veteran wasn’t happy with how his free agency experience went down, saying it was “kind of awful” considering how public things became.


Obi Toppin Trained With Former MIP

During media day on September 26, third-year big man Obi Toppin discussed his offseason training in great detail, even noting that, when out on the west coast, he linked up with former NBA big man and the 1993-94 Most Improved Player award winner, Don MacLean.

“I worked on everything. Three-pointers, posts, defense. Literally, anything I could work on,” Toppin said. “I was working out in LA with a guy named Don MacLean. I’m not sure if you guys are familiar with him, but he used to play and he’s a great coach.”

MacLean was drafted back in the 1992 NBA Draft, going 19th overall and played for nine seasons, boasting career averages of 10.9 points and 3.8 rebounds.

During his sophomore season in 1993-94 when he won M.I.P, the former UCLA standout went on to post impressive averages of 18.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game on 50.2% shooting from the floor.

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