Mavs Confident About Retaining Jalen Brunson Beyond 2021/22

Mavericks officials continue to express confidence behind the scenes about the team’s ability to lock up guard Jalen Brunson beyond the 2021/22 season, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack report.

Brunson was the 33rd overall pick in the 2018 draft, selected 30 spots after Dallas drafted Luka Doncic. He obviously hasn’t followed Doncic’s path to superstardom, but Brunson is viewed as one of the NBA’s best second-round picks of the last few years. In 17 games (29.2 MPG) so far this season, the fourth-year point guard is averaging 15.1 PPG, 5.3 APG, and 4.4 RPG, all of which would be career highs.

Unlike most second-rounders who sign four-year contracts, Brunson didn’t get a team option on the final year of his deal, which means Dallas didn’t have the ability to make him a restricted free agent following his third season. Instead, the former Villanova standout is on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2022.

Brunson is extension-eligible, so the Mavs could theoretically sign him to a new contract before he becomes a free agent. However, restrictions on veteran extensions will limit Dallas to a maximum offer of approximately $55.6MM over four years. If Brunson continues to play at his current level, that could be a below-market offer. The team would be able to go beyond that limit in free agency using the 25-year-old’s Bird rights.

According to Stein, Brunson is “quietly regarded as Dallas’ most effective and forceful locker-room leader,” so his value to the team extends beyond what he provides on the court. If he does reach the open market next summer, it’s safe to assume Brunson will receive interest from other suitors looking to pry him away from the Mavs.

In shorter-term news, Brunson – who left Tuesday’s game with a left foot injury – went through portions of Friday’s practice, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be cleared to play on Saturday, but it sounds like his foot injury isn’t a significant one.

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