Free Agency Notes: Jalen Brunson, Deandre Ayton, Zach LaVine

Mavericks

Free agent guard Jalen Brunson seems likely to return to Dallas despite reports linking him to the Knicks, Pacers and Pistons, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer said on the Dunc’d On podcast, via Hoops Rumors.

Rival teams even expect Brunson to be back with the Mavs next season, Fischer said.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban recently told Marc Stein of The Stein Line that he too expects Brunson to return.

“We can pay him more than anybody,” Cuban told Stein. “I think he wants to stay and that’s important.”

Cuban added that he also thinks Dallas is where Brunson wants to be.

“I think (Mavs coach Jason Kidd) has a big part to play in that,” Cuban told Stein. “JB blossomed as a player as much as anybody on the squad. From where he was last year to how far he came this year is a tribute to Jalen and how hard he worked.

“The support he got from his dad, his family, his girlfriend, but also what he was able to learn to from J-Kidd. And I think he recognizes that and I think he wants to stay.”

Suns

One free agent who Fischer could envision changing teams? Suns center and former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton.

“He wants the max, he doesn’t want to come down from that,” Fischer said, via Hoops Rumors. “… Detroit gets mentioned a lot. Portland, it seems like he’s another guy that (Damian Lillard) has interest in playing with. Toronto gets mentioned. San Antonio’s been mentioned.”

Brandon Robinson of Bally Sports recently reported the Spurs, Mavs and Trail Blazers at teams that could make a run at Ayton. Previous reports suggested the Hawks have a strong interest too.

You can check out our full position-by-position list of 2022 NBA Free Agents, both unrestricted and restricted, right here.

Bulls

Finally, Fischer suggested Zach LaVine will also return to the Bulls once it’s all said and done. LaVine is expected to hit the recruiting trail first, though. League sources told Hoops Wire he too is seeking a max contract.

“The Zach LaVine thing, like I said, I don’t expect him to leave, but people there are at least saying, ‘Yeah, the door’s open for him to go,’” Fischer said.

Still, LaVine is believed to be “in play” by several rival teams around the NBA, per Stein. That means teams think LaVine could leave Chicago this summer in the right scenario. He has also been linked to the Blazers and Spurs, as well as a few others.

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