It’s the same reason they held out on flipping the 26-year-old in subsequent talks with the Memphis Grizzlies who were also willing to give up almost anything for Durant himself. Instead, Brooklyn targeted and retained Bridges who guided them to a 116-105 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday scoring a career-high 45 points on 70.8% shooting adding eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and two steals.
“If we keep getting better, learning and growing together, I feel like we’ll be a scary team that teams don’t want to play against,” Bridges told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype after the game. “We’re going to have five guys at all that’s going to be out there defending and playing for one another.”
Bridges is also making a historical impact joining Durant, Kyrie Irving and new teammate Cam Thomas in giving the Nets the most individuals to score at least 45 points in a game in a single season, per ESPN Stats & Info.
He also earned a fitting new nickname.
It’s just his fourth game with the Nets and his third in uniform. But the former 10th overall pick (2018) is already embracing the leadership role that he has unexpectedly found himself in after a whirlwind trade deadline.
“I just believe in this team a lot, “Bridges said. “And that’s why me and [Jacque Vaughn] was talking, we’re talking in practice – and the team talking – because I think this team could do really good. And we have the players, we have the coaches, we have the mindset. So, just trying to lead. And, I know, just trying to do whatever it takes. And try to see what our best offense can be, our best defense can be.”
Jacque Vaughn ‘Pleased’ with Mikal Bridges
“I’m extremely excited about this group,” said Vaughn via the team’s official YouTube Channel. “That part of the old era is gone we got a new era and we have some guys in the locker room who can really play the game of basketball – who really want to learn about the game, who want to be pushed and coached.”
Vaughn, who has a strong connection with almost all of the Nets players, is certainly a fan.
“Mikal Bridges is open-minded but at the same time has a consciousness about him that he can communicate with his teammates…Extremely pleased that he’s a part of our future going forward.”
He isn’t the only one speaking highly of Bridges’ future either.
Devin Booker ‘Excited’ for Mikal Bridges
“They’re getting an opportunity,” said Bridges’ former teammate, Devin Booker, in a video posted on Twitter by Duane Rankin of AZ Central. “Mikal’s getting a chance to play as if he was when I wasn’t out there the past month and a half and he can only get better from here and I’m excited to watch it.”
Booker – who joked about Bridges returning to Phoenix when his contract expires in 2026 – is just one of many Suns to rave about their former comrade. Suns head coach Monty Williams and center Deandre Ayton have both opened up in the aftermath of the blockbuster deal.
Bridges, who is on a four-year, $90 million contract, is off to a good start. And, if he keeps it up, Booker might have to wait a little longer than 2026 or change his address.