Grading blockbuster Mikal Bridges trade involving Nets, Knicks, Rockets (2024)

The Brooklyn Nets shook the NBA world Tuesday night, trading Mikal Bridges to the New York Knicks for Bojan Bogdanovic, four unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027, 2029, 2031), a protected 2025 first-rounder from the Bucks, a 2028 unprotected pick swap, and a 2025 second-round pick, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

In a separate deal with the Houston Rockets, the Nets re-acquired control of their first-round picks in 2025 and 2026 in exchange for a 2025 first-round pick swap via the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix's 2027 first-round pick, and the rights to the two most favorable of Houston, Phoenix, and the Dallas Mavericks' first-round picks in 2029.

With that, we look at where each team stands after the trades and offer grades.

Grading both deals for the Nets

Grading blockbuster Mikal Bridges trade involving Nets, Knicks, Rockets (1)

All the signs over the last year pointed to the Nets' intention to pair a star with Bridges. Many thought that player could be Donovan Mitchell. However, with Mitchell expected to sign an extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn wasn't left with many clear-cut options.

If that wasn't enough evidence that it was time to hit the reset button, Bridges' wandering eye was the nail in the coffin. The 27-year-old informed the Nets earlier this week that he wanted to be a Knick and was prepared to force his way to New York, according to SNY's Ian Begley. But with two years left on his contract, the Knicks still needed to make an overwhelming offer to execute their first trade with the Nets since 1983. Five first-round picks and a first-round pick swap met that criteria.

However, the deal was still incomplete on Brooklyn's end. Trading Bridges would immediately make the Nets one of the worst teams in the NBA next season, putting pressure on them to regain control of their draft pick. They accomplished this by offering the Rockets four first-round picks, three via the Suns, in exchange for their firsts in 2025 and 2026.

With control of their first-round pick next season, the Nets can freely tank for a top selection in a draft that features highly touted prospects like Cooper Flagg, Ace Bailey, and Dylan Harper.

The pair of deals completely transform Brooklyn's outlook, taking what many considered a hopeless era and setting up a promising rebuild in the NBA's biggest market. Following the deals, the Nets have 15 first-round picks over the next seven years.

Marks will add to that draft stash in the coming weeks as he fields offers for Bogdanovic, Cam Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Dennis Schroder. The Nets can also open over $80 million in cap space next offseason, depending on roster decisions.

They can use that space to sign high-upside free agents or absorb unwanted salaries in return for more picks, offering immense flexibility moving forward.

Overall, the Nets turned Bridges — who has never made an All-Star team — into five first-round picks and a swap while regaining control of their future from Houston. Yes, it will mean a lot of losing in the short term, but I'm not sure Brooklyn fans could have envisioned a better long-term outcome.

Grade: A

Grading the trade for the Knicks

After fizzling out in the second round while ravaged by injuries, the Knicks decided to get aggressive. They made a splash, reuniting Bridges with his former Villanova teammates Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo. All four players showed their excitement on X/Twitter after news of the deal broke.

But this deal is a serious risk. New York gave away control of its future without protections for a player few would consider a star, let alone a superstar.

Having said that, the Knicks are in a position to bring the best out of Bridges, who was miscast as a lead offensive option with the Nets last season. With a lead guard like Brunson dominating the ball, he can slide back to his accustomed role on the wing, knocking down spot-up threes and re-focusing his energy on defense.

Bridges and OG Anunoby will present one of the most imposing defensive duos in the NBA, with an elite bench pairing of Hart and DiVincenzo behind them.

New York won't be favorites in the Eastern Conference next season. That title belongs to the reining champion Boston Celtics. However, with question marks surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, this deal could make them a close second.

Grade: B

Grading the trade for the Rockets

After landing the No. 3 pick in the 2024 draft via Brooklyn, Houstons fans had a brief window Tuesday where they thought they were sitting on gold. A Nets team without Bridges would almost certainly be one of the worst in the league next season, barring a trade for another big name. The development could have given the Rockets another top selection in a loaded 2025 draft.

Instead, Houston traded Brooklyn's picks for Phoenix's first-round picks in 2025 and 2027, as well as the two most favorable of Phoenix, Dallas, and their own firsts in 2029. The Rockets made the deal in hopes of offering the Suns their picks back for Kevin Durant, according to Wojnarowski. However, Phoenix has no intention of trading Durant at this time.

While Phoenix's 2025 first should be a low selection, their long-term outlook looks increasingly bleak. After this year's draft, the Suns won't own their first or second-round pick until 2031.

As a second-apron team, they won't have access to the taxpayer mid-level exception, meaning they can only offer free agents minimum contracts. They also cannot aggregate salaries in trades, meaning they cannot combine multiple players to bring back a single player making more. Phoenix owes Bradley Beal $161 million over the next three seasons, a contract that is widely considered one of the worst in the NBA.

All of these factors will be part of the Rockets' sales pitch as they attempt to package the Suns' picks for a star. If they can pull it off, this trade will look like a savvy maneuver. But if they can't, their fans could be watching the Nets make top selections in the next two drafts, wondering what could have been.

Grade: B

Grading blockbuster Mikal Bridges trade involving Nets, Knicks, Rockets (2024)

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