New York Notes: Bridges, Lillard, Toppin, Brunson

Mikal Bridges has already been mentioned in several offseason trade rumors, but Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscription required) believes the Nets intend to build around him rather than trying to deal him for other assets. Lewis states that Bridges has already become “the face of the franchise” and has strong support from owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks.

Bridges posted career-best numbers after being acquired from Phoenix in February, averaging 26.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 27 games. He also emerged as a locker room leader and quickly won over Brooklyn fans with his style of play. He has a team-friendly contract that runs for three more seasons.

“I think he’s proven to a lot of people that his role can continue to get better and better and bigger and bigger,” Marks said. “But now that when the ball is in his hands in those key crucial moments of games, can he step up? Can he be that guy that we can rely on in big moments? I think we saw it a little bit in Phoenix when Devin Booker was out. He carried a considerable load for them. And then we saw this year where he came in and immediately was a crowd favorite.”

There’s more from New York:

  • The Nets have “genuine interest” in Damian Lillard if he asks the Trail Blazers for a trade, Lewis adds in another Post story. Lewis examines the various factors surrounding a potential Lillard trade, including his age, his contract, which will reach $63.2MM in 2026/27, and what Brooklyn would have to send to Portland in return. Lewis doesn’t expect Nets management to part with Bridges, so a deal would have to be built around Nic Claxton, with Spencer Dinwiddie and Royce O’Neale thrown in for salary matching or possibly Ben Simmons if Brooklyn can include enough other pieces to convince the Blazers to take on his contract.
  • Obi Toppin was the first lottery pick made by the Knicks‘ current management team, but his time in New York could end this summer, suggests Steve Popper of Newsday. Toppin has been stuck behind Julius Randle, which has prevented him from getting the playing time he needs to develop his game. Popper adds that although Toppin averaged 21.8 PPG in the five starts he made this season, he doesn’t provide the defensive presence that coach Tom Thibodeau wants at power forward.
  • In a mailbag column, Fred Katz of The Athletic rates the Knicks‘ addition of Jalen Brunson last summer as the NBA’s best free agent signing since 2019.
View Comments (10)