Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire and a significant portion of the offseason chatter about the New York Knicks has been dedicated to the club’s pursuit of Mavs floor general Jalen Brunson. It’s not hard to see why the baller is being talked about, either.
Brunson is in the midst of a career year for Dallas and he has played a key role in the club’s postseason success so far. Through nine playoffs game, the 25-year-old is averaging 24.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per outing.
Moreover, he has Knicks connections through his dad, ex-Knick Rick Brunson, as well as team president Leon Rose, who represented both Brunsons during his former career as an agent.
With Brunson’s upcoming free agency looking like a tough nut to crack, though, the Knicks may find themselves having to go with a backup plan at the point guard position. To that end, one insider sees the team weighing a swing for one of the NBA‘s best backups.
Berman: Tyus Jones Is in the Mix
According to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, Grizzlies point-man Tyus Jones “is on the Knicks’ radar,” per a league source.
Jones, who was named the NCAA Tourney’s Most Outstanding Player after leading the Duke Blue Devils to a national championship in 2015, has had a solid, if unspectacular playoff run with Memphis, putting up 7.0 points, 3.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals as Ja Morant’s backup.
However, with the Grizzlies star suddenly dealing with a knee injury, Jones could see more minutes and responsibility going forward. And his numbers suggest that he’d be doing a whole lot more on the court if he was just given the time to do so (more on that later).
Berman notes that teams may look to offer Jones the full, nontaxpayer’s mid-level exception, worth just over $10 million. If the Knicks continue to operate over the cap, they would be able to offer him such a deal.
At the least, it’s something that may be worth exploring with the Mavs apparently not being willing to work a sign-and-trade deal with the Brunson and New York being unlikely (unable?) to sign him outright.
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Jones Has Done More With Less Than Most
Playing behind one of the league’s rising stars and an MVP candidate has definitely limited Jones’ opportunities to strut his stuff. However, the 25-year-old is using his minutes as well or better than some of the league’s elite backcourt players.
Per 36 minutes, Jones averaged 14.7 points, 7.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals during the regular season. Meanwhile, his 7.04 dimes per miscue gave him the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the Association among players appearing in 20-plus games.
“I love him,” one coach told The Post. “He has to be one of the best backup point guards in the league, if not the best.”
On March 11, Jones scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and zero turnovers in just 20 minutes in a win over the Knicks. The Grizzlies were a whopping plus-22 when he was in the game (which they took from New York by all of four points).