West Contender Expected to ‘Place Bid’ for Newly Acquired Nets Starter

Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets

Getty New Nets players Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson.

After trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at the deadline, one of the Brooklyn Nets’ best players is Mikal Bridges. Bridges may not be the level of superstar that Durant and Irving are and is undersized for the small forward position at 6’6, but his tenacious defense and elite defensive ability is something every title contender could use on their roster. NBA insider Jake L. Fischer of Yahoo Sports says that Bridges may be on the radar of the Memphis Grizzlies this offseason.

“Brooklyn did not seriously entertain offers for Bridges after landing him from Phoenix, sources told Yahoo Sports. He is under contract through 2025-26 at what’s considered a value deal of more than $22 million in average annual salary,” Fischer writes.

“There will be no shortage of title chasers who bid for Bridges this offseason. Memphis is one suitor to keep filed away, after the Grizzlies, sources said, pursued Bridges both from Phoenix and then Brooklyn and were willing to offer combinations of picks and players that did not include Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, or Jaren Jackson Jr. for Durant.”

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Nets Face Looming Cam Johnson Decision

The Nets also face a decision regarding Cam Johnson, who also was part of the deal that sent Durant to Phoenix. Johnson will be a restricted free agent in July. If the Nets don’t offer him a deal he wants this summer, Johnson will have the option to seek a more lucrative deal from other suitors. At that point, Brooklyn can choose to match the offer sheet or let him walk in free agency.

Johnson has impressed in his first two outings with the Nets so far. He is averaging 13 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2 assists in that span. And as a career 39% three-point shooter, his long-range scoring could help the Nets in a department they severely struggle in.

But how the Nets prioritize a new contract for Johnson will ultimately be the deciding factor.

Ben Simmons still has two years and roughly $80 million left on his deal and will be hard to trade based on his performance this season. Nic Claxton, who is one of the leading candidates for the Defensive Player of the Year award, is making $8.5 million this year and $8.7 million in the final year of his contract next season. He will surely command significantly more money when it’s time for a new deal next July. The emergence of Cam Thomas is also something to consider, as he will be eligible for a 5-year, $205 million extension after the 2023-2024 season.

The Suns couldn’t reach an agreement on a new deal with Johnson, which could be why he was included in the Durant deal. Per Fischer, Phoenix was not willing to offer Johnson a deal that exceeded $72 million over four seasons. Will the Nets be willing to spend big to keep him?

Kevin Durant & Kyrie Irving Could Reunite on Suns

The Durant and Irving era may be over in Brooklyn, but that break-up may only be temporary, depending on how the rest of the regular season plays out. A report from NBA insider Marc Stein said that Durant “immediately” requested a trade once he learned of the Irving to Dallas deal, confirming that the duo never wanted to split up. They just wanted to not be in Brooklyn.

Fischer notes that if things don’t work out with Irving and Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, the former Nets duo could reunite in Phoenix.

“The Suns approached the Nets about trading for Kyrie Irving once the All-Star point guard asked out of Brooklyn, sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports, and there were rumblings around the league that Phoenix was hoping to somehow land both Irving and Durant,” Fischer writes.

“That isn’t just a window into another present reality. A future reunification of Durant and Irving with the Suns will loom on the periphery of both Phoenix and Dallas’ stretch runs. Phoenix had already contacted rival teams about other ball-handlers on the February trade market, sources said, and was expected by league personnel to pursue Fred VanVleet if he truly reached unrestricted free agency this summer.”

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