When Jalen Brunson started to breakout last year after he and the Mavs had failed to reach an extension agreement prior to the 2021-22 season, many started to project the Knicks as the favorites to land the Dallas guard.
Brunson had grown up a Knicks fan, with his father playing in New York and having a longtime relationship with coach Tom Thibodeau as an assistant in Chicago and Minnesota, and Leon Rose being his father’s agent (and is the father of Brunson’s current agent, Sam Rose). However, as the playoffs wound down the expectation initially was that the Mavs would re-sign Brunson and much of the chatter about Brunson’s many connections to the Knicks quieted. That changed when Rick Brunson was brought back onto Thibodeau’s staff as an assistant in June and in the weeks following the talk of Brunson going to New York changed from a possibility to an outright certainty in the days leading up to the start of free agency.
That immediately led to tampering allegations, particularly from Mavs fans, and while the Knicks did their best to pretend everything was being done by the book — including a rather hilarious report that Brunson would take meetings (in NYC) with the Mavs, Knicks, and Heat, only to cancel those meetings once free agency actually began — very few believed them. The NBA, which is currently investigating the Sixers for some under the table dealings with James Harden, will now also officially look into the Brunson-Knicks connection, per Chris Haynes.
The NBA has begun an investigation into the New York Knicks for alleged tampering regarding free agent pickup Jalen Brunson, sources inform @YahooSports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 1, 2022
What makes the Brunson situation so unique is how many natural connections he has to the team and how that makes it difficult to figure out what’s tampering and what isn’t. When your father is an assistant coach, what would qualify as a legal conversation and what would be tampering? We will find out soon enough where the line is between family ties and illegal contact.