Monthly Archive 27 February 2024


‘I really did want to stay’

Before Jalen Brunson became a star with the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks could have signed him to a four-year, $55 million contract extension, Brunson said on an episode of “All The Smoke” with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes.

“I really did want to stay in Dallas,” Brunson said.

Brunson was eligible for that extension in the 2021 offseason and throughout the 2021-22 season, his fourth in Dallas. According to Brunson (both in an interview with Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes 11 months ago and in this recent one) and Brunson’s father, Rick (in an interview with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon 22 months ago), he told the Mavericks that he’d be willing to sign that on two occasions: Before the season started and in the first half of the regular season. Both times, they said the Mavericks declined to put the offer on the table.

“I wanted to stay there, I thought I would be there for a long time, and I liked my role there,” Brunson told Jackson and Barnes. “It’s funny because my agent was like, ‘You can do so much, you can get more, you can get more.’ I’m saying, ‘Well, I want to be safe. I’m not trying to gamble right now. This is not something you really gamble with if it’s out there.’ But [the Mavericks] were like, ‘We want to see where we’re at by like 20, 25 games into the season.’ We were like, ‘All right, well, if you’re not going to do it, I kind of don’t want to do it until after the season. I’m not trying to think about this [during the season].’

“So there was a period where Luka [Doncic] went out and I started to start. I was playing really well, I think I was averaging like 20 and like six, maybe, whatever. It was about that 20-, 25-[game] mark. And so we went back, we’re like, ‘Hey, if the deal is there, we’re thinking about it.’ Like, ‘I’ll do it, like right now.’ Still, it was no. It wasn’t a hard no — it was just like, ‘We want to see, we want to see.'”

As the trade deadline approached, Brunson said he figured he was about to get traded. Dallas did not trade him, and after the deadline passed, it put the four-year, $55 million deal on the table. But this was too late.

“I was like, ‘No, I think I’ve outgrown that now,'” Brunson said. “Personally, that’s what I thought.”

In the 2022 playoffs, with Doncic sidelined, Brunson led Dallas to wins against the Utah Jazz in Game 2 (in which he scored 41 points on 15-for-25 shooting) and Game 3 (in which he scored 31 points on 12-for-22 shooting) of the first round. The Mavericks went on to win that series and beat the No. 1-seeded Phoenix Suns in seven games before the Golden State Warriors eliminated them in the conference finals. The night their season ended, in an interview on Bally Sports Southwest, owner Mark Cuban told Marc Stein, “We can pay him more than anybody. And I think he wants to stay, and that’s more important.” Brunson saw the clip on Twitter.

“So he says that in an interview, whatever, like literally right after the game,” Brunson told Jackson and Barnes. “So I’m thinking, ‘OK.’ After that, it was just like crickets. From my point of view — I can’t speak to anyone else or my agent’s — from my point of view, it was crickets.”

.@jalenbrunson1 details his last season in Dallas. He was ready to sign a 4-year $55 million contract, but the Mavs front office balked.😳

Full episode of All The Smoke with JB drops tomorrow on our YouTube.

— All the Smoke Productions (@allthesmokeprod) February 21, 2024
Cuban sees things differently. Last April, he blamed Rick for the guard’s departure and said that Dallas didn’t have a chance to negotiate with Brunson in free agency. “Knowing the numbers now, I would’ve paid it in a heartbeat, but he wouldn’t have come anyway, Cuban told ESPN. He also claimed, per the Dallas Morning News, that, two days before the 2022 trade deadline, Rick had. Through agent Aaron Mintz, he demanded that the Mavericks dump salary so they could immediately renegotiate and extend Brunson’s contract.

That July, New York signed Brunson to a four-year, $104 million contract that now looks like a bargain. The previous month, it had hired Rick as an assistant coach. When Rick was a player, he was the first client of agent Leon Rose, who is now the president of the Knicks. Rose is Brunson’s godfather. In December 2022, the league took a second-round pick away from New York as punishment for having conversations with Brunson before the official start of free agency.

This season, Brunson is averaging 27.6 points on 59.6% true shooting (with a 29.2% usage rate), 3.8 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. He is one of the most popular human beings in the city of New York, and he probably should have started this past Sunday’s All-Star Game. On “All The Smoke,” when Jackson said Brunson’s decision to sign with the Knicks was the “best move you made,” Brunson nodded his head.

“Best move,” he said.


Jamal Crawford gives Warriors star Klay Thompson advice about coming off the bench

Now in the twilight of his career, Klay Thompson might have to get used to coming off the bench. Thompson was recently left out of the Golden State Warriors’ starting lineup for the first time since his rookie season, and three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford had some advice for him.

In last Thursday’s 140-137 win over the Utah Jazz, Thompson came off the bench and went berserk. He made seven of his 13 three-point attempts and ended the night with a game-high 35 points. Thompson looked rejuvenated after struggling for most of the 2023-24 season.

Crawford knows a thing or two about having success off the bench. Crawford joined ‘The Draymond Green Show’ and spoke about the adjustment Thompson will have to make.

“I actually reached out to Klay before he came off the bench because we talked about it on TV,” Crawford said. “Everybody is trying to bury Klay. I’m like, he’s still averaging 17 points. I said, ‘The fight is with himself because he’s been so legendary for so long. Klay’s battle is that, and obviously the injuries and everything. With him, I’d tell him to embrace it. I can give him a whole other wind. We don’t see legendary players like that who have had four-time champions and averaging 17 points be like, ‘I’m gonna come off the bench.'”

Crawford also laid out the benefits of Thompson playing a reduced role. When Thompson does get on the court, the offense will run through him, and he might be able to play more freely with less pressure on his shoulders.

“You’re the focal point of the offense when you do that,” Crawford said. “It gets you in a rhythm. Forget off the bench or starting. You’re gonna have better numbers doing this than you’re doing it right now. You may have more fun. Enjoy this s–t. … Enjoy it because it goes so fast, and you’ve earned that.”

Following last week’s game against the Jazz, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Thompson dealt with the situation like a professional.

“I thought he handled everything beautifully, the way he came out — determined, competitive,” Kerr said. “That’s difficult, but Klay’s a champion. He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met. He responded accordingly, and played a great, great game.”

The Warriors’ next game is a home clash against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, so we’ll see if Thompson keeps thriving in his new role.


Knicks star doesn’t rule out surgery, but says shoulder is ‘getting better’

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle hasn’t played since Jan. 27 because of a dislocated shoulder, and, in his first public comments since the injury, the All-Star said Wednesday that surgery has not been ruled out.

“I mean, we’ll see,” Randle told reporters, via SNY. “There’s still, like, necessary steps, and it’s a process to everything. I have to weigh out everything, ultimately, and decide from there. But right now I’m just focused on trying to avoid that, obviously, and get back on the court as soon as I can.”

Asked if he’d need surgery eventually, even if he were able to come back and play the rest of the season without it, Randle said, “I’ve heard many different opinions.”

Randle said that he knew his shoulder was dislocated as soon as it happened. While he’s been sidelined, he has been “diving into the film” with coach Tom Thibodeau, he said, in order to “see how I can get better and apply it when I’m able to really get out there on the court.”

Last week, SNY’s Ian Begley reported that the Knicks were optimistic about Randle’s progress and the chances of him being able to return this season without surgery.

“Every day I’m getting stronger, I’m getting better,” Randle said. “So just taking it a day at a time, just continuing to try to just stay locked in on what I have to do to continue just to get healthy. Not just physically but mentally as well.”

The Knicks are “taking it step by step” with Randle, Thibodeau told reporters Wednesday, via SNY.

“Right now, he’s preparing to come back to play,” Thibodeau said. “He’s putting a lot into it, he looks good, he’s got a great spirit about him, he’s working out twice a day. So all things are good right now.”

The previous day, Thibodeau told reporters that Randle is “meeting all the markers” and “moving around pretty good,” but hasn’t been cleared to practice yet.

This season, Randle has averaged 24 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 46 games. He was named to his third All-Star team, but was unable to participate because of the injury.

New York lost four straight games and five of six entering the All-Star break, but it was extremely shorthanded during that stretch. The Knicks will still be without its entire starting frontcourt – OG Anunoby, Randle and Mitchell Robinson – when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, but forward Bojan Bogdanovic, center Isaiah Hartenstein and wing Donte DiVincenzo are all expected to return to the lineup.

On the season, New York is 33-22 and fourth in the East, with only a half-game lead on the fifth-place Sixers. The Knicks rank eighth in the NBA in offensive rating, ninth in offensive rating and sixth in net rating. With Jalen Brunson, DiVincenzo, Anunoby, Randle and Hartenstein on the court, they have outscored opponents by 16.6 points per 100 possessions, but that lineup has logged only 180 minutes in 10 games.