Proposed Trade Sees Nets Land Top-5 Draft Pick, Speeds Up Rival’s Rebuild

Cameron Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Cameron Johnson #2 of the Brooklyn Nets.

Despite the Brooklyn Nets’ best wishes, they may need to be a bit more realistic about how far they can go with this roster and what it would take to turn it into a true title contender once again.

Instead, they could opt to go star searching the more conventional way — via the draft courtesy of the Detroit Pistons who hold the No. 5 overall pick.

“Using the No. 5 pick to reel in a marquee name may represent an even better scenario. And if the Pistons don’t have the stomach—or faith in the current core—to attach gobs of other assets to this year’s first-rounder, they can always strive for a happy medium,” wrote Dan Favale of Bleacher Report.

Mikal Bridges is that happy medium.”

Nets get:

Marvin Bagley
Killian Hayes
– 2023 1st Rd Pick (No. 5 Overall)

Pistons get:

– Mikal Bridges

Bagley is a former No. 2 overall pick (2018) by the Sacramento Kings. He was traded to Detroit during the 2021-22 season and has had a bit of a career resurgence averaging 12.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, and just a shade under 1.0 assists per game this past season.

He is heading into the second year of a three-year, $37.5 million pact.

Hayes is also a former top-ten pick, taken No. 7 overall in 2020, who struggled over his first couple of seasons before averaging 10.3 points, 6.2 assists, and 2.9 boards in 2022-23.

“Perhaps the Nets ask for everything,” admits Favale who also suggested the Memphis Grizzlies as a potential trade partner in the piece. “They won’t get it. Bridges is worth more than the No. 5 pick in a vacuum. The Pistons can sweeten the pot with future firsts (pending obligations to New York). But this isn’t a No. 5-plus-[Jaden] Ivey situation.”

Brooklyn rejected Memphis’ offer of four first-round picks for Bridges in the immediate aftermath of acquiring him.

No. 5 Pick Would Reset Nets’ Timeline

The most important thing is this deal would arm the Nets with picks Nos. 5 – a slot that has produced stars such as Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young and Cleveland Cavaliers up-and-comer, Darius Garland – 21, and 22 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft.

It would also put less pressure on the front office and coaching staff to cobble together something meaningful from a group that went 13-15 after the trade deadline.

They were also swept out of the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year.

Bridges, 26, showed well in his featured role averaging over 26.0 points per game after being traded from the Phoenix Suns and is already locked up through 2026 on a four-year, $90.9 million contract. But he is far from the only consideration the Nets will have to keep in mind when building out the roster this offseason.

Bagley and Hayes could still blossom into consistent contributors for winning teams.

Neither moves the needle enough for a Nets team that would need to justify flipping the key piece in their return package for Kevin Durant.

The No. 5 overall pick is far from guaranteed to land the Nets what they would be looking for, as well, sitting just outside of the anticipated range to land projected top pick Victor Wembanyama as well as other top-three hopefuls Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller and possibly even Amen Thompson.

There is talent beyond that but the risk might be too great given what Bridges has shown.

Nets Want to Give Core More Time

Restricted free agent Cameron Johnson could command a deal commensurate with his teammate and best friend, Bridges, while the Nets are going to be above the luxury tax if they retain him without further moves.

They have been fairly clear about their desire to keep and build around Bridges, even if Nets general manager Sean Marks has not explicitly made him off-limits in trade talks.

Head coach Jacque Vaughn is also very high on Bridges, a former No. 10 overall pick himself, who openly takes pride in being the veritable anti-superstar by NBA standards which figures to make it even less likely that a pick – let alone anything outside of the top three – is enough.

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Noah Rosenthal
Noah Rosenthal
10 days ago

This makes no sense. Bagley has no value or maybe negative value. Hayes is an ok backup PG. Bridges is worth more than the #5 pick and a backup PG. This trade plus 2 #1s. Or this trade plus another #1 and Duren.

Craig Bigger
Craig Bigger
13 days ago

I would absolutely love for this to happen if this is all it would cost the Pistons, but I suspect that the Nets would at least want the Pistons 31st pick as well… if not another future first round pick instead, which they currently don’t have the freedom to negotiate with (still owing the Knicks a heavily protected first round pick). Maybe if the include Bogdanovic it gets a deal done? Maybe the Pistons need to swing a trade with the Knicks for Bogdanovic in order to get their future first rounder back in house. Then they would have the ability to negotiate multiple first round picks for Mikal Bridges. It might take the Nets losing a bunch of games before next seasons trade deadline before they are ready to admit it’s time to trade Bridges and start a rebuild from the ground up. Maybe the Pistons just stay at 5 and pick Cam Whitmore – who then might become a version of Anthony Edwards on offense and Mikal Bridges on defense, essentially getting their own Bridges 2.0

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