Friday, August 19, 2022

NBA rumors: Jalen Brunson now expected to sign with Knicks; P.J. Tucker likely to join Sixers

With the NBA Finals and 2022 NBA Draft now in the books, the next big item on the league calendar is free agency. And though it technically doesn’t get underway until 6 p.m. ET on June 30, it’s clear that teams are already wheeling and dealing. Here’s a look at some of the latest bits of information.

Brunson now expected to sign with Knicks

Jalen Brunson was one of the breakout stars of the playoffs, as he helped the Dallas Mavericks reach the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2011. In addition, when Luka Doncic was sidelined at the beginning of the first round, he showed he can be more than a complementary player. 

As a result, he’s set to earn a big payday this summer, especially with the Mavericks and New York Knicks getting into a bidding war for his services. Shortly after the Mavericks were eliminated, all signs pointed to Brunson returning to Dallas. Now, however, the winds have changed. 

Marc Stein reported on Tuesday that there is “growing resignation” in the Mavericks organization that Brunson will sign with the Knicks. Now, the questions are: for how much, and can the Mavericks save face with a sign-and-trade? In regards to the former, that likely depends on how much money the Knicks are able to clear from their books. They started on draft night by trading Kemba Walker to the Detroit Pistons, but still have some work to do in order to offer a four-year deal worth at least $100 million.

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Tucker likely to join the Sixers

It appears that PJ Tucker’s tour of Eastern Conference contenders will continue next season. After winning the title with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021, and reaching the Eastern Conference finals with the Miami Heat in 2022, Tucker is expected to join the Philadelphia 76ers

While it’s not surprising to see Tucker latch on with another contender, it is a bit surprising to see that he’s going to get a long-term deal worth $30 million over three years, according to Keith Pompey. While he can still defend at a high level, and shot a career-high 41.5 percent from 3-point land last season, he’ll turn 40 years old in the final year of that deal. If he can stay healthy he’ll help the Sixers, but that’s no guarantee with a player in their late 30s who plays as physically as Tucker. 

Zubac cashing in 

Ivica Zubac is one of the more underrated big men in the league and often flies under the radar on a Los Angeles Clippers team with so many big names. The team, though, is well aware of his importance and moved quickly this summer to keep him around long-term. 

Zubac had just one year left on his contract, which was a team option. Instead of exercising it, the Clippers inked Zubac to a new deal worth $33 million over three years, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Zubac averaged 10.3 points and 8.5 rebounds last season, both of which were career-highs, and shot 62.6 percent from the field. He figures to play a big role next season as the Clippers hope to return to the ranks of title contenders with a healthy Kawhi Leonard

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