“Denver probably is not letting Bruce Brown go,” an Eastern Conference general manager told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney. “But that would be the ideal piece for the Knicks. [Tom Thibodeau] would love him.”
The Nuggets, however, would be hard-pressed to bring Brown back should the 6-foot-5 versatile guard decline his $6.8 million player option for next season. The most they can offer him is a starting salary of $7.8 million, way below what he’s expected to command in the open market after teams spurned him last summer.
“So the rumors coming into free agency last year was I was getting a lot of offers, which I wasn’t,” Brown told reporters following Denver’s practice on May 26. “Nobody really wanted me because they didn’t know if I could be a guard or not. I kind of took it personal. But I knew after the season, the way I played in Brooklyn, it wouldn’t fit or people would question how I played.”
Brown came off a stellar run with the Knicks’ crosstown rivals, Brooklyn Nets, as a small-ball forward.
“So I kind of told my agent that I was going to get F’d this summer. I already knew it. So I just came in with a chip on my shoulder. Denver came in and said the right things, and it clicked. It was a perfect fit.”
Brown flourished even more, playing exclusively as a guard for the Nuggets. For two straight seasons, he’s shown his ability to play next to dynamic tandems– from Kevin Durant–Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn to Nikola Jokic–Jamal Murray in Denver.
Brown has outperformed his $6.4 million salary this season, averaging a career-high 11.5 points on a 48/36/76 shooting split while playing as Murray’s primary backup. The 26-year-old two-way guard also produced 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals as the Nuggets’ Sixth Man.
Brown raised his level of play in the playoffs, scoring 11 or more points in 11 of Denver’s 15 playoff games so far while soaking in important minutes during crunch time.
His switchability from guard to a small-ball wing who can play on both ends of the floor and impact winning makes him an ideal fit in Thibodeau’s schemes.
The Knicks can offer more money than the Nuggets, using the majority, if not all, of their $12.2 million non-taxpayer exception.
Knicks’ Pick Plays Key Role in Nuggets’ Historic Finals Run
Ironically, on the same day former Knicks star Carmelo Anthony announced his retirement, the Nuggets, the team that originally drafted him, punched their first NBA Finals ticket in franchise history.
What makes it a bitter pill to swallow for the Knicks fans is that Murray, who averaged 32.5 points while shooting 52.7% from the field and 40.5% from deep in the Nuggets’ four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, was part of the Anthony blockbuster trade a dozen years ago.
The Nuggets got to select Murray, the seventh overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, using the pick swap they received from the Knicks as part of the deal that also netted them Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, 2014 first-round pick (Dario Saric), 2012 second-round pick (Quincy Miller), 2013 second-round pick (Romero Osby) and cash considerations.
Nuggets Reserve Big Man Extends Knicks Rare Streak in NBA Finals
Nuggets reserve center DeAndre Jordan has extended an unusual streak for the Knicks in the NBA Finals.
Since 1947, the Knicks have had a former, current or future player in the NBA Finals, according to Knicks Muse.
While the Knicks have not reached the Finals since 1999, that did not stop FOCO from including them in their commemorative NBA championship bobblehead collection, now available for pre-order at their official website. Other teams included in the collection are past NBA champions Milwaukee Bucks, Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics.
The Knicks’ commemorative NBA championship bobblehead features a team-colored figure wearing a gameday uniform in an action pose with the Larry O’Brien Trophy sitting on top of the base.