May 29, 2024

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The NBA is opening an investigation into the New York Knicks for potential tampering regarding the offseason signing of Jalen Brunson, per Chris Haynes. Brunson signed a four-year, $104 million contract with New York on the first day of free agency, and the league is looking into whether the Knicks contacted the young guard prior to free agency starting.

New York’s interest in Brunson was reported well before the start of free agency, and the Knicks were seen as the favorite to sign him away from the Dallas Mavericks in the days leading up to the June 30 start date in part because of the familial ties he has with the franchise. The Knicks hired Rick Brunson, Jalen’s father, as an assistant coach weeks before free agency started, and New York’s general manager, Leon Rose, was Jalen’s agent prior to taking a front office role. When free agency opened on June 30, it was reported that Brunson would meet with both the Mavericks and Knicks, but Dallas ultimately didn’t get a formal meeting, as Brunson decided to sign with New York.  

If the league determines that the Knicks are guilty of tampering, they could face penalties including fines or the loss of draft picks. Last summer the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat both surrendered a second-round pick after the league found that they had tampered in their signings of Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry, respectively. The same happened to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020 after an investigation determined that the team tampered when it agreed to a failed sign-and-trade for Bogdan Bogdanovic. 

However, even if the Knicks are docked a second-round pick, it’s a small slap on the wrist for getting the point guard they’ve long needed. Brunson played a significant role in the Mavericks reaching the Western Conference finals last season, and his performance in the first round against the Utah Jazz showed that he’s capable of a bigger role. 

In the three games Brunson played without Luka Doncic against the Jazz, he averaged 32 points, 5.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds. He’s an efficient guard who doesn’t turn the ball over often, and can settle down an offense when needed, something the Knicks have been lacking. Losing a draft pick will be a small price to pay if Brunson can help the Knicks get back to the playoffs.

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