Not only have they rebuffed offers of multiple first-round picks for the 26-year-old swingman but they also made sure to keep the pieces around him to keep him happy.
Surely that is on Bridges’ mind as he got a friendly request from former Villanova teammate and current New York Knicks guard Josh Hart who simply requested the Nets’ new building block “hit my phone, bro” but Bridges was having none of it, using a gif on Hart against him.
The Knicks, who also roster former Villanova guard Jalen Brunson, added another former Wildcat in swingman Donte DiVincenzo this offseason in free agency. All four players won a title together in 2015-16 while the trio of Bridges, Brunson, and DiVincenzo went on to win another NCAA title in 2017-18.
They all followed Hart, who was drafted in 2017, into the NBA in 2018.
He averaged 26.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists with 1.0 steals in 27 regular-season appearances while also showcasing an even greater ability to be the focal point of an offense than he showed during his time in Phoenix.
“We’re talking about a young man that’s growing in front of our eyes,” Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said via YES Network on April 22. “A great learning experience that we can’t replicate unless he goes through it…I’m going to be able to look back on this and talk to him about…what it looks like going forward because he’s a part of it.”
And it’s not just that the Nets have him under team control for the foreseeable future and have rejected those offers.
They are also actively putting pieces around him to build out the roster.
Nets Lock Up Cameron Johnson
The biggest move to that end was re-signing forward Cameron Johnson, Bridges’ former Suns teammate and close friend, to a four-year, $108 million contract ahead of free agency, potentially avoiding a bidding war that was expected to potentially include the Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons among others.
Instead, the Nets keep the “twins” together, much to Bridges’ delight.
Johnson, 27, experienced a similar uptick in his production and responsibilities following the trade to Brooklyn and, while he did hint that he could take some time to make his decision in free agency, he was also going to be influenced by Bridges’ presence.
“The guy that I came into the league alongside of, and somebody that I’ve grown close to – I value those people in my life,” Johnson said during his exit interview on April 23. “And he is a good teammate to have. He does little things. He plays hard, defends, and can help cover up a lot of stuff. So the continued opportunity to play with him would be very cool to me.”
And the Nets might not be done making this roster even more potent.
Nets Could Land Heat’s Tyler Herro
Brooklyn is said to be on the list of acceptable trade destinations for Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, in whom they have had a legitimate interest in the past. But they are a distant second behind the Miami Heat and were not among the teams reportedly preparing offers.
However, they have been contacted about being the third team in a trade that could bring them Heat star Tyler Herro, the 2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year.
Herro, 23, averaged 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists while shooting 37.8% from three-point range. He is beginning a four-year, $120 million contract but the Nets could move Ben Simmons to Portland to end up saving some money in the transaction which might interest everyone.