Nets Name-Dropped as ‘Best Fit’ for Mikal Bridges’ Ex-Teammate

Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Mikal Bridges #1 of the Brooklyn Nets.

If the Brooklyn Nets don’t have the stomach to pony up what it might cost to pry Damian Lillard loose from the Portland Trail Blazers, perhaps they could look at Mikal Bridges’ former teammate and potential Phoenix Suns free agent Chris Paul. Paul was officially informed of his potential release on June 7, per Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.

Subsequent reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN clarified that both sides are still sorting through options.

If he is granted his unconditional release from Phoenix, Brooklyn might want to come calling.

Bridges and Paul spent the majority of the last three seasons together as teammates in Phoenix before the Suns sent the former in a package to Brooklyn for Kevin Durant at this year’s trade deadline.

The deal took an emotional toll on the Suns.

Paul, 38, was among several players and former head coach Monty Williams who spoke highly of the Nets swingman in the aftermath.

Now, Paul could have the opportunity to join Bridges in Brooklyn as Phoenix looks to avoid guaranteeing the $30.8 million cap hit for next season, the third year of a four-year, $120 million contract.

Phoenix faces many options including waiving Paul to shave $45 million off their books.

His next team – which could still be the Suns – won’t be on the hook for that which could be right up the Nets’ alley since they will have to work to avoid the luxury tax.

Chris Paul Can Still Be Effective When Healthy

Despite his advanced age for an NBA player, Paul still makes a positive impact when he’s healthy. He averaged 13.9 points, 8.9 assists, and 4.3 rebounds with 1.5 steals per game this past season and still shot better than 37% from beyond the arc.

But he also missed 23 games during the regular season and has a history of suffering injuries at the worst times.

Brooklyn will have to limit just how far they are willing to go in a potential bidding war.

Nets Have to Navigate Salary Cap

“Brooklyn enters the offseason only $10 million below the $162 million tax threshold and will likely end up a tax team after giving a new contract to [Cameron] Johnson, barring a trade of another player on the roster,” wrote former Nets assistant general manager and current ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks in his offseason guide.

Johnson is expected to see a contract that begins at $18 million annually.

“A 6-foot-8 wing who can shoot 40 percent from deep with solid defense will command top dollar,” reported Brian Lewis of the New York Post on March 11. “Sources say his floor is $18 million annually, and could easily top $20 million.”

While Bobby Marks offered a warning to Brooklyn about overvaluing the 27-year-old Johnson in his guide, Sean Marks has sounded ready to do what it takes to keep him.

Johnson will be a restricted free agent this summer so the Nets will have the right of first refusal on any offer he may receive. But getting (most of) the band back together could be a good thing – Phoenix’s plus-16.1 net efficiency differential with Bridges, Paul, and Johnson on the floor this season ranked in the 99th percentile, per Cleaning The Glass.

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