Of all the potential off-season targets on the Portland Trail Blazers’ whiteboard, none outside of Joel Embiid has triggered as much hope and passion among Blazers fans as Brooklyn Nets wing Mikal Bridges. The 26-year-old averaged 20 points on 47% shooting from the field last season while drawing some of the NBA”s toughest assignments on defense. He’s the hot, young commodity on the market, a star in waiting, and plenty of teams would love to have him, including and especially Portland.
According to Alex Schiffer, Nets analyst for the Athletic, the Blazers don’t have what it takes to get that deal done. In an article released today [subscription required] Schiffer opines that even the most glittery of Portland packages—including guards Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, and/or the third overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft—could not pry Bridges away from Brooklyn.
Coming out of the combine, my understanding was the Nets aren’t interested in trading Bridges to Portland and would want more than the No. 3 pick and Simons (or Shaedon Sharpe) than just those two assets, if they did. That makes sense, too. If the Blazers are that desperate to help Dame, why not push for more? I don’t think Simons is a good return because he’s an older player and already got paid. Sharpe is younger and on the better deal.
Schiffer also said the cost for Brooklyn to get Damian Lillard from the Blazers to join with Bridges there is too high to make sense.
I don’t think the Nets have the assets to get Lillard and frankly, I don’t think a deal for him is worth it. He’s almost 33 and isn’t going to win a title in Brooklyn. At least I don’t think so without the landscape around the rest of the league changing. What’s the Nets’ ceiling with him if the East stays as is? I’d say the second round. If he asks out, I think Lillard should go to Miami, where the Heat can hide his defensive liabilities and have him just score. They can win the East with that team. They’re already on the brink of winning it without him.
But to play your game the Nets would need to trade Nic Claxton and Ben Simmons for cap-filler, but that could change because who knows what his physical looks like with those back injuries? Then, maybe four first-round picks? The Suns gave up four for Kevin Durant, who is two years older than Lillard, so why wouldn’t the Blazers start there? And Lillard is an unrestricted free agent in 2025. Will he extend with the Nets and finish his career there? And how does that contract age? A lot to sort through there. Hence, why I don’t think it’s worth it.
If Schiffer is correct, Portland and Brooklyn aren’t destined to be dance partners this summer. Could he be mistaken? Stay tuned.