Knicks trade Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks to Pistons to Clear Cap Space for Jalen Brunson!

Leon Rose was made fun of and criticized draught night for trading out of the first round.

Less than a week later, he has made it possible for the Knicks to sign their top free-agent target.

There were reports on Tuesday that the Knicks were the clear favorite to sign Jalen Brunson. A source confirmed that the Knicks made enough room under the salary cap to offer him a max contract by trading Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, two future second-round picks, and cash to the Pistons in exchange for two future second-round pick and cash.

The Knicks now have more than $30 million in cap space, which is enough to give Brunson a four-year, over-$100 million max contract. Even before the moves, word got out that Brunson was going to sign with the Knicks and that Dallas had already accepted the fact that they would lose the valuable guard. Tim Cato, who covers the Mavericks for The Athletic, tweeted that it is “seen as a sure thing.”

ESPN said that the Mavericks are willing to offer Brunson a five-year deal that is similar to the four-year, $85 million deal that Raptors guard Fred VanVleet signed in 2020. After the trade deadline, Dallas offered Brunson a four-year, $55.5 million deal, but he turned it down.

If Brunson took what is expected to be the Knicks’ offer, he would make at least $5 million more per year.

“I think he’d go to the Knicks if that’s the case,” said a person who has known Brunson since college and is close to him. It would be hard to say no.

On draught night, the Knicks started to get rid of money. They traded the No. 11 pick and sent Kemba Walker to the Pistons, which opened up about $14 million in cap space. They got rid of Burks and Noel, who was set to make a total of $19.2 million, on Tuesday, which cost them even more money. By letting go of center Taj Gibson, the Knicks can add $5.1 million to their salary cap.

Knicks trade Nerlens Noel, and Alec Burks to Pistons to clear cap

Despite all of these moves, they still have 11 first-round picks over the next seven years and haven’t traded any of their young players, who could be used to make another big move in the future. In addition to Brunson, Spurs guard Dejounte Murray has also been mentioned as a possible candidate. San Antonio is in the middle of a full rebuild.

Brunson has a lot of ties to the Knicks. Brunson’s old agent was Rose, who is now the team president. Brunson’s current agent is Sam, who is Rose’s son. His father, Rick Brunson, was just hired by the Knicks to work with coach Tom Thibodeau. Jalen Brunson grew up in Illinois when both Thibodeau and guard Derrick Rose were on the Bulls and Rick was an assistant coach for Thibodeau. Brunson’s high school coach, Pat Ambrose, told The Post that Rose helped Brunson when he was young.

Brunson also lived in southern New Jersey until he was in the sixth grade and still owns a house on the Jersey Shore. He went to college at Villanova, which was in the Northeast.

Brunson, who is 25, just finished a season in which he averaged career-highs of 16.3 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.9 rebounds while shooting a solid 50.2% from the field after becoming a full-time starter in December. The former second-round pick did even better in the playoffs, scoring 21.6 points, grabbing 4.6 rebounds, and dishing out 3.7 assists. When star teammate Luka Doncic got hurt in the first round, he played his best. He scored 41 and 31 points in two wins over the Jazz.

Brunson has won everywhere he has tried. He was a McDonald’s All-American in high school and helped Villanova win two national championships. He also played a part in the Mavericks’ run to the Western finals this year. In 2015, he was the most valuable player in the U-19 World Cup, which Team USA won.

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