Southwest Notes: Brunson, Finney-Smith, Rockets, Wesley

Form Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson expected to stay with the franchise for a long time, he revealed on JJ Redick’s The Old Man & A Three podcast (Twitter link). Instead, Brunson wound up signing with the Knicks this month, inking a four-year, $104MM deal.

“I loved my time in Dallas. I thought I was going to be in Dallas for a long time,” Brunson said, referencing how he didn’t sign an extension with the team. “I started having a monster season. I went to them before they officially offered it to me, and by the end, it was kind of too late.

“The business came knocking at the door, and so it was time to at least look [in free agency]. I had to do my due diligence and look to see what was out there.”

Brunson is coming off a season where he averaged a career-high 16.3 points per game. He was a secondary creator alongside Luka Doncicalso averaging 4.8 assists and shooting an efficient 50%.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith is aiming to be more of a vocal leader next season, as relayed by Dwain Price of Mavs.com. Finney-Smith is eyeing a ring with Dallas, who’s expected to compete for a title after losing in the Conference Finals 4-1 to Golden State last season. The Mavericks acquired Christian Wood and have a top-tier offense, but they’ll need to give a high-level defensive effort to contend. They ranked seventh in defensive rating (109.1) and 10th in defensive rebound percentage (73.3%) last season.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic examines several Rockets topics in his mailbag, including next summer’s free agency, new assistant coaches and more. Houston is coming off a 20-62 season and is continuing a full-scale rebuild. The team has a young nucleus of Kevin Porter Jr. (22), Jalen Green (20), Jabari Smith Jr. (19) and others to build around. Houston also recently added Lionel Hollins, mike batiste and Mahmoud Abdelfattah to its coaching staff.
  • Ethan Fuller of BasketballNews.com interviews Blake Wesleywho was drafted No. 25 overall by the Spurs last month. Wesley appears ready to sharpen his point-guard skills. “I see myself as a point guard, so going into the NBA I feel I’m gonna be a point guard,” Wesley said. “A big key to the Spurs is [being] 6-foot-5, long [and] athletic, so to get guys open is gonna be good for me. I’m gonna get to the paint and find guys.”

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