Nets’ Mikal Bridges Issues Warning About Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard

Brooklyn Nets

Getty Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers.

There’s a certain level of respect that Brooklyn Nets swingman Mikal Bridges has for Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, and he thinks you should too.

Posed with the choice of taking $1 million up front or having to score more than 15 points while guarded by Leonard for a chance at $20 million by Legion Hoops on Twitter, Bridges offered up the advice.

“Yall better not even think about that 20,” Bridges tweeted on July 4.

Leonard, 33, is one of the best players in the NBA when he is on the floor, capable of taking over offensively and shutting down an opponent’s best player all in the same game. He’s a two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP, a seven-time All-Defensive selection, and a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team among other accolades.

The former San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors star is also a rarity in that his production in the postseason is even better than the regular season but his calling card remains defense.

The issue for Leonard – and the Clippers – is that he has not been able to sate on the floor, making no more than 57 games since coming to L.A. in 2019-20 and has not made more than 60 appearances since 2016-17.

He has only appeared in at least 70 games two times in his career.

And yet, despite that lack of availability is said to be wearing thin in some corners of the organization, he is as revered as he is; a testament to his talent.

Mikal Bridges’ Recruiting Efforts Come Up Short

Bridges was doing his part to help bring talent to the Nets this offseason, stumping for them to re-sign his friend Cameron Johnson – which they did to the tune of $108 million over four years – and trying to recruit former Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams to Brooklyn where he would have provided good size and skill off the bench.

Unfortunately for Bridges, Williams’ status as a restricted free agent meant the Celtics would have had the right of first refusal of any offer sheet from another team that Williams would have signed, and they avoided even having to go through that process altogether.

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Williams, 24, averaged 8.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists this past season while knocking down 39.5% of his looks from beyond the arc.

The Nets have remained linked to a trade for Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, either by directly acquiring him or as a third team helping to get a deal done with a chance to land Miami Heat star Tyler Herro and unload Ben Simmons as possible outcomes.

Nets Urged to Target Knicks’ Former Top-10 Pick

“The Nets might be in a holding pattern until the Damian Lillard sweepstakes are decided,” wrote Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report in an article from July 5 identifying potential top targets for teams at this point of the offseason, “If they do take any dart throws, they could do worse than putting a non-guaranteed pact in front of Frank Ntilikina.”

Ntilikina, 24, has never averaged 6.3 points, 3.2 assists, or 2.3 rebounds in any season of his six-year career since being drafted No. 8 overall in 2017 by the New York Knicks.

But he has found his way as a defender.

Brooklyn’s backcourt is deep, though there are no standouts among a group that includes starter Spencer Dinwiddie and backup Dennis Smith Jr. at point guard, Bridges, Cam Thomas, Edmund Sumner, and newcomer Lonnie Walker IV splitting minutes at shooting guard.

There might not be any room for such a limited piece.