Nets Trade Mikal Bridges To Knicks, Get Deal Done With Rockets

OG Anunoby, Mikal Bridges, Knicks, Nets, NBA
Jan 23, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) and New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) talk during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the 2024 NBA Draft, the Brooklyn Nets completed a significant roster change by trading Mikal Bridges to the New York Knicks and striking a deal with the Houston Rockets to regain first-round picks they moved in the James Harden trade.

In the aftermath of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving‘s era, the Nets never clearly chose between playoff aspirations and draft lottery positioning despite having an underwhelming roster. By trading Bridges to the Knicks, they’ve committed to a clear direction, amassing 16 first-round picks through 2031, including four selections in the highly anticipated 2025 NBA Draft with a clear telegraphed goal to tank.

ESPN reported that despite several teams showing interest in Bridges, he desired to reunite with his former Villanova teammates—including Jalen Brunson—on a championship-contending Knicks team. New York’s confidence in keeping him long-term drove the Knicks to trade their extensive draft assets.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Mikal Bridges, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets Updates

As ESPN reported, the negotiations between Nets general manager Sean Marks and Knicks president Leon Rose intensified on Tuesday. Ultimately, New York overwhelmed the market by offering four unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027, 2029, and 2031), a protected 2025 first-round pick via the Milwaukee Bucks, an unprotected 2028 pick swap, and a 2025 Brooklyn second-round pick.

Simultaneously, the Nets worked out a deal with Houston to reclaim their 2025 and 2026 first-round picks, trading away Phoenix’s 2025 and 2027 picks and securing a potential 2029 first-round pick swap if it is the most favorable among the Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix picks. Brooklyn had to regain control of its draft picks to begin having reason to tank.

This deal positions the Rockets to make aggressive future moves, especially if the Phoenix Suns, currently focused on winning with Durant and Devin Booker, decide to reconfigure their roster. The Rockets now have a strategic advantage should a Suns star, particularly Booker, become available. However, that has yet to occur, with Phoenix communicating a desire to compete with both star players and neither requesting a trade.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Mikal Bridges, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets Updates

By committing to the Bridges trade, the Nets aimed to regain the picks initially traded in the Harden deal, ensuring a better position for potential stars like Ace Bailey, Cooper Flagg, and Dylan Harper in next year’s NBA Draft. However, the Detroit Pistons are a prime example of how the new lottery adds risk for tanking being the clear focus, given they went from having the worst record in the league to selecting fifth overall.

The Nets had considered adding another star alongside Bridges, but none were available, making it clear what direction needed to be taken. Consequently, Brooklyn received significant draft offers from multiple teams, including Memphis and Utah. However, New York’s substantial asset base and determination to acquire Bridges led to the first trade between the two teams since 1983.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Mikal Bridges, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets Updates

The Nets may continue to make moves, with plenty of veteran players under contract who could help the organization add assets. Names like Dorian Finney-Smith, Cam Johnson, and Bojan Bogdanovic are ones to monitor closely, considering the appeal of acquiring wing talent for contending teams.

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