Things can escalate quickly in NBA discourse as the Brooklyn Nets could soon find out.
“If the Nets think they found a star in Mikal Bridges…they shouldn’t waste any time building something significant around him,” argues Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report on April 14. “He’ll turn 27 this offseason, so if he hasn’t entered his prime yet, he’ll get there soon.
“Brooklyn could fast-track its way back up the Eastern Conference hierarchy with a daring deal for Damian Lillard.”
– Damian Lillard
Dinwiddie, 30, has roughly $18.9 million owed to him next season in the final year of his contract and has proven himself to be quite the capable playmaker. Meanwhile Harris’ (31) contract had been a bit of an anchor but will expire after next seasons’ nearly $20 million payout.
Sharpe and Thomas have both had tougher times cracking the new-look rotation despite seemingly nothing being set in stone about the team’s future.
“As good as Bridges has looked in Brooklyn, Lillard is a different level of star,” writes Buckley. “He could immediately assume control of this attack, let Bridges slide into a better-fitting sidekick role and let the supporting cast fall into place behind them. With a bunch of other lengthy wings on the roster and all-purpose stopper Nic Claxton manning the middle, Brooklyn could have the defensive protection Portland was never able to provide to Lillard.”
Bridges’ ascension from role player to featured performer has been notable.
He’s gone from averaging a would-be career-high 17.2 points on 57.4% true shooting with the Phoenix Suns to averaging 26.1 points on 60.7% true shooting which would be a career-high mark in its own right over a full season. The 6-foot-6 swingman ended the regular season averaging 20.1 points on 58.7% true shooting.
Damian Lillard a Fan of Mikal Bridges
“I love Mikal Bridges,” Lillard told Stephen A. Smith on ‘Stephen A’s World’ on ESPN on April 12.
Lillard listed a number of NBA stars on his list of favorites but his affinity for Bridges predates even this instance.
“If I had to say a player right now that I would want to add to our team, I would say somebody like Mikal Bridges or OG Anunoby or Jarred Vanderbilt,” he said on ‘The Dave Pasch Podcast‘ in September. “Somebody like that. One of those three. I love those three guys.”
Lillard is coming off arguably the best season of his career.
He was shut down with a calf injury on March 28 but, at 32 and the Blazers finishing 16 games below .500, he has recently begun to put pressure on the Blazers’ front office to fast-track the rebuild.
Lillard is still owed well over $200 million over the next four years, taking him through is age-36 season.
Nets Have More Pressing Matters
Brooklyn could very well be among the teams that would have eyes for Lillard should he become available in a trade. In the meantime, since that can’t happen until the offseason anyway, the Nets are rightly focused on facing the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.
It’s fair to wonder if anything could make Bridges happier than beating his hometown team, a team that traded him on draft night in 2018.
Philly went 4-0 against the Nets during the regular season but won both games that featured all three of Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey healthy by a combined seven points. Of course, the last time the two teams met at full strength was just two days after the trade deadline so it will be interesting to see if anything is different this time around.