Will Mavericks Regret Not Getting Contract Done With Jalen Brunson?

Dallas Mavericks, Jalen Brunson, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

There has not been a lot to get excited about for the Dallas Mavericks thus far this NBA season. Yes, they are 5-3, which is encouraging. But, even the most optimistic Mavericks fans out there know that there is a lot this team needs to figure out.

The team has looked better on the defensive side of the ball, the half of the court they have struggled mightily in recent seasons. But, it is their offense that has been in the gutter thus far this season, ranking near the bottom of the NBA.

Luka Doncic has once again been relied upon to be a one-man show as Kristaps Porzingis is nowhere to be seen. Porzingis is once again battling injuries, but even when he has been on the court, he hasn’t produced much. In three games, Porzingis is averaging 12.7 points on a .302/.235/.727 shooting split.

That won’t cut it for a fringe rotation player, let alone someone expected to be the No. 2 option for a team. Even Doncic has struggled from the field in the early going with a shooting split of .422/.254/.690 through eight games.

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So, how have the Dallas Mavericks managed to win five games with their first two options struggling so much? They have received excellent contributions from the supporting cast, headlined by Jalen Brunson.

Brunson is tied with Tim Hardaway Jr. for the second-most points per game on the team with 15. He does it efficiently for a guard as well, with a shooting split of .484/.423/.731, and has exploded in the last two games.

Brunson scored 25 points against the Miami Heat in a loss and poured in 31 in a one-point victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the team’s most recent game. He has showcased excellent rebounding ability for a point guard, averaging 5.3 per game to go along with 4.3 assists.

Dallas was on the hunt for a secondary ball-handler all offseason to play alongside Doncic, yet they had one all along in Jalen Brunson. He has been inserted into the starting lineup the last two games and it will be difficult to remove him given how well he has played.

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Brunson was one of the best reserve guards in the NBA and is now seeing his role expand. While that is great for the Mavericks this season, it will make things much more difficult when it comes to retaining him in free agency.

When he was selected in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft, Brunson signed a straight four-year deal, with no options. That means he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, not a restricted one as almost all rookies are that do not agree to a rookie extension prior to their fourth season in the NBA.

Whatever their reasoning for not working out a deal with Brunson, the Dallas Mavericks certainly dropped the ball not locking him up to a long-term deal before the season. He is going to receive a ton of interest as an unrestricted free agent from teams around the league. He is proving he can handle a multitude of roles, which will increase his price tag even more.

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Not having the ability to match any offer sheet he signs, as they would have had Jalen Brunson been a restricted free agent, the Dallas Mavericks have put themselves in a precarious position when it comes to retaining the Villanova product beyond this season.