New York Notes: Bridges, Ollie, Hart, Randle, Anunoby

The Nets resisted opportunities to trade Mikal Bridges at the deadline and they still view him as a cornerstone of the franchise, sources tell Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Bridges is seen as a potential All-Star with a team-friendly contract that will pay him $23.3M next season and $24.9MM in 2025/26.

Bridges is also considered a strong recruiter who can help bring more talent to Brooklyn, Bontemps adds. Besides Bridges, only Cameron Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith are signed beyond next season, giving the Nets potentially more than $70MM to chase a 2025 free agent class that could include Donovan MitchellBrandon IngramRudy GobertLauri Markkanen and Jimmy Butler.

The Nets have slumped badly after a 15-15 start and have the second-worst record in the league since December 27. Still, Bridges told Bontemps that he believes in the organization “100%” and has no desire to go anywhere else.

“Things ain’t going good right now, and that’s life,” he said. “… I know a lot of people might think about different situations and teams, and obviously I got my boys (from Villanova) over there in New York and stuff, so obviously everybody goes with that. But I was never the type of guy to (want to leave when) things get tough and it’s time to cry out and get out.”

There’s more from New York City:

  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post traces Kevin Ollie‘s journey to his first NBA head coaching job. Ollie, who was named the Nets‘ interim coach when Jacque Vaughn was dismissed on Monday, had the makings of a coach back in college, according to former Connecticut mentor Jim Calhoun. “It’ll be no question that if you don’t put good effort in — I have no idea what his verbal responses will be — I do know that you’ll probably be sitting beside him,” Calhoun said. “There’s going to be purpose and work, because that’s how he played and that’s how he coached for us at UConn.”
  • Josh Hart may complain about what he’s asked to do, but he has been one of the Knicks‘ most reliable players, observes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Hart has said publicly that he would prefer a larger role in the offense, but he keeps providing the intangibles the team needs, including a strong defensive presence and constant effort, while missing just one game all season. “I think he just talks the talk, if that makes sense,” Jalen Brunson said. “He’s like a — I’m going to be nice — he says whatever he wants to say, but when he goes out there, when it’s time to compete, it doesn’t matter who or what is in front of him.”  
  • Knicks forward Julius Randle is still determined to return from his dislocated right shoulder before the end of the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Saturday on NBA Countdown (video link). However, Wojnarowski cautioned that Randle’s situation remains “fluid” as no decision has been made regarding surgery. Woj adds that OG Anunoby is “right on schedule” following a recent procedure on his right elbow and will be reevaluated at the end of next week.
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