Nets’ Mikal Bridges Causes Social Media Stir With Damian Lillard [WATCH]

Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Mikal Bridges #1 of the Brooklyn Nets.

Player relationships are paramount in the chemistry-driven NBA and for fans of the Brooklyn Nets and Portland Trail Blazers, there is equal hope on both sides that the pre-existing relationship between Mikal Bridges and Damian Lillard pays off.

The two caused quite a stir on social media on May 27 after Bridges joined Lillard’s Instagram Live session.

Not as though they needed it but fans got going in the comments as they did.

Lillard has long made his affinity for Bridges, noting how he would like to play alongside someone like him.

“If I had to say a player right now that I would want to add to our team, I would say somebody like Mikal Bridges or OG Anunoby or Jarred Vanderbilt,” he said on ‘The Dave Pasch Podcast’ in September. “Somebody like that. One of those three. I love those three guys.”

He has also name-dropped Bridges’ best friend and teammate, Cameron Johnson.

“Cam Johnson is nice and Mikal Bridges is my favorite small forward in the league,” Lillard said in an interview with Chris Haynes for Yahoo Sports in 2021.

Lillard also attended Game 3 of the Eastern Conference first-round series between the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.

“It’s so obvious lmfaoo,” tweeted @Therealjay__y, “It’s tampering at this point.”

Blazers Still Looking to Build Around Damian Lillard

The first hurdle to a potential partnership for Bridges and the Nets is Portland’s continued insistence on building around the 32-year-old Lillard, including their willingness to deal away the Nos. 3 and 23 overall picks in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Lillard has said he has no interest in a rebuild but has always maintained he wants to stay in Portland.

He did, however, suggest fans start a petition if they wanted him traded.

Even when faced with his message being viewed as passive-aggressiveness, Lillard again stood on his past remarks about wanting to remain with the Blazers. He did sign a two-year, $121.7 million contract extension with Portland in June 2022 that effectively locks him in through 2026-27.

Lillard still has more than $94 million remaining over two years on his current contract and the new deal has a $63-plus million player option in the final year. He made 58 appearances this past season and has not appeared in more than 67 games since the 2018-19 season.

Nets Not Interested In Blazers’ Potential Offer

From the Nets’ standpoint, Bridges is the closest thing they have to a franchise cornerstone and, while he may not be untouchable, they certainly expect more than the offer of four first-round picks they rejected from the Memphis Grizzlies at the trade deadline.

Even a souped-up offer may not be enough, however.

“Coming out of the combine, my understanding was the Nets aren’t interested in trading Bridges to Portland and would want more than the No. 3 pick and [Anfernee] Simons (or Shaedon Sharpe)…if they did,” wrote Alex Schiffer of The Athletic in the May edition of his mailbag.

It may be important to note Schiffer’s use of “or” as opposed to “and” with regard to Brooklyn’s interest in Portland’s young backcourt.

Perhaps an offer of both gets the job done, especially considering the financial ramifications.

“[Wanting more] makes sense, too,” wrote Schiffer. “If the Blazers are that desperate to help Dame, why not push for more? I don’t think Simons is a good return because he’s an older player and already got paid. Sharpe is younger and on the better deal.”

Simons, 23, is on a four-year, $100 million contract, nearly $10 million more than Bridges’ deal with both players slated for unrestricted free agency after the 2025-26 season.

Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn is a noted advocate of two-way playability.

Simons is a dynamite scorer – career-high 21.1 points per game, 37.7 3P% in 2022-23 – but does not offer nearly as much as Bridges defensively. Sharpe turns 20 years old on May 30 and offers more explosive athleticism than Bridges but is still very raw leaving a franchise with a roster still built to win now in the Nets needing to be very judicious in its dealings.

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