Are the Brooklyn Nets (33-22) committed to a vision with this new group? It is hard to tell based on their moves at the trade deadline, though some of that was out of their control based on the order in which the requisite dominoes fell.
Still, they left themselves in an interesting position.
“Here’s the crazy thing too: that bounty of draft picks probably could have increased if they wanted to put Mikal Bridges on the market,” said ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks on the ‘Lowe Post’ podcast on February 10 of the total haul the Nets got back for all of their deadline deals. Including Irving’s trade, the Nets brought back four unprotected first-round picks (‘23, ‘25, ‘27, and ‘29 Suns), one top-four protected pick, and a swap option in addition to a slew of second-rounders from trading Jae Crowder to the Milwaukee Bucks.
They already have one more pick coming back from trading James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons (2027) giving them two first-round picks in each of the 2023, 2027, and 2029 NBA Drafts, per RealGM.com.
And yet, to Marks’ point, host Zach Lowe confirmed it could have been even better.
“I know of one team that offered them four first-round picks for Mikal Bridges,” Lowe said before clarifying, “I know of at least three first-round picks. The fourth one might have had some protections or something but I’m pretty sure that’s a thing.”
It has since been reported by Micahel Scotto of HoopsHype that the Memphis Grizzlies were the team offering the bounty of picks.
Marks was quick to note that Bridges has yet to even make an All-Star team in his career, though he did earn an All-Defensive team selection as well as finish second to Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics in Defensive Player of the Year last season.
The 6-foot-6 swingman is averaging a career-best 17.2 points and 4.3 rebounds adding 3.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and knocking down 38.7% of his triples.
Mikal Bridges Learned of Trade While FaceTiming Damion Lee
“So my boy, Damion Lee, he was in the hotel and he FaceTimed me and you could just tell he was upset,” Bridges told Jared Greenberg of TNT. “He was like, ‘I’m sorry, like, I’m sorry about this and that’. I’m like, ‘What are you talking about’. He’s like, ‘You ain’t see?’ I’m like, ‘see what?’ He was like, ‘you got traded to Brooklyn for KD’ and I was like, ‘Aww man.’ Went to Twitter, saw it, and that’s when I tweeted. And then my agents called me a like couple minutes later and that’s how I found out.”
One additional note, as pointed out by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press on Twitter, due to the trade not being official by game-time, Bridges was forced to miss his first game since high school.
But it was his absence in the Suns’ locker room that was felt the most as the Nets got a 116-105 victory over the Chicago Bulls despite Bridges, fellow former Sun Cam Johnson, and emerging big man Nic Claxton all sitting out.
What’s Next for Nets?
What comes next for the Nets is as up in the air as ever. General manager Sean Marks’ future was already murky due to all of the turmoil that occurred since he took over in 2016. How will his ability to pivot on the fly and under duress affect that?
Bridges is in the first year of a four-year, $90.9 million contract giving the Nets control through the 2026 season so the 26-year-old could still be moved in the offseason if Brooklyn wants to lean into a full organizational reset. They do not have to though with Dinwiddie in the second year of a three-year, $54 million deal. Only Johnson — in the final year of his four-year, $18.6 million rookie deal — is set to need new money this coming offseason, though he will have to get it from the Nets or in restricted free agency.
This Nets team could still look vastly different by the next time they are ready to compete at a level it was just a few weeks ago.