Nets Star Considered ‘Primary Target’ as Damian Lillard Trade Talks Heat Up

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Getty Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts.

The Brooklyn Nets are coming off a turmoil-filled 2022-23 season. The season started with hopes of a title chase, but after the trade deadline deals that saw general manager Sean Marks send All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks and Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns, that was a wash. The season culminated with the Nets getting swept by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.

As the team prepares for its first full season without Durant or Irving since 2019, many are wondering if they will keep the same roster they had after the trade deadline or use those acquired assets to land another big-name superstar. According to Portland Trail Blazers insider Sean Highkin, the Blazers view Nets star Mikal Bridges as a “primary target” in a potential trade.

“I would agree that those (Mikal Bridges, Pascal Siakam, and Jaylen Brown) are the three primary targets for the (Blazers) when it comes to trades involving the third pick, and I think there’s a reasonable chance something gets done involving one of them,” Highkin writes via his Substack account.

This news comes after multiple reports suggested that Lillard could be interested in joinng the Nets this offseason.  The star guard was also courtside at Barclay’s Center during their first round matchup with the Sixers.

Nets Not Interested in Trading Mikal Bridges

After getting traded to the Nets in February, Bridges averaged 26.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. His rise to superstardom in the second half of the season could be attributed to him not having to share touches with Chris Paul and Devin Booker as well as having the freedom to do other things on the floor, such as being a playmaker.

After getting a small sample size of what Bridges can do as a first option, one league executive told NBA insider Michael Scotto the Nets are not interested in moving him this offseason.

“The Nets have cornered the market on 3-and-D wings,” the executive told Scotto via HoopsHype. “While many rival executives around the league are convinced [Mikal] Bridges isn’t going anywhere, there’s a belief the Nets could break up their surplus of wing depth and trade either [Dorian] Finney-Smith or [Royce] O’Neale. Various teams around the league, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, are expected to pursue potential 3-and-D wings this summer.”

Anta Showing Interest in Former Nets Star

The turning point of the Nets season can be marked when their former All-Star point guard, Kyrie Irving, tweeted out the link to an Amazon film that featured anti-Semitic language. Irving’s decision resulted in him getting suspended for eight games.

But the backlash for Irving’s choice extended beyond the court. The future of Irving’s endorsement deal with sneaker giant Nike was already in jeopardy entering the final year of his contract. But once the incident took place, Nike cut ties with the star point guard shortly after.

Irving continued to wear his signature Nike sneakers throughout the remainder of the season, covering the Nike logo with black tape that often had messages written over it, such as “I am free” to express his joy of no longer being signed to the brand. As Irving eyes the free agency period for his next team, he also has a looming decision to make on what sneaker brand he will be with heading into next season.

According to NBA insider Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports, Chinese sneaker company Anta has a “heavy” interest in signing the former Nets star.