It's fake trade season in the NBA, and one rumor has become a favorite point of speculation since the NBA Draft Lottery. The Portland Trail Blazers surprisingly jumped from No. 5 up to No. 3, and while they surely would have stayed put had they won the right to draft Victor Wembanyama, the No. 3 slot is a bit more of a debate. Yes, that slot offers the chance at a young, core player, but it could also be used to add a veteran who could help Damian Lillard win right now. The name that has been thrown around most since the Blazers made their jump? Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges.
The logic is pretty straightforward. The Nets are still recovering from the breakup of their super team. While Bridges is by far their best player, he is also their only trade asset capable of kick-starting a true rebuild. If the Nets wanted to build around a rookie rather than a 26-year-old on an expensive contract, a trade might make some sense. However, The Athletic's Alex Schiffer is reporting that Brooklyn is not interested in such a deal.
This shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Plenty of teams have reportedly tried to pry Bridges out of Brooklyn since he was dealt for Kevin Durant. The Memphis Grizzlies even reportedly offered four first-round picks for the versatile swing man. But the Nets, to this point, have resisted all overtures. They seem to view Bridges as a core part of their future.
That makes sense given how well he played as a Net. Bridges averaged 26.1 points per game in 27 games in Brooklyn. Couple that scoring with his customarily excellent defense and Bridges is one of the best two-way players in the NBA.
The Blazers shouldn't lack for suitors if they do indeed try to trade the No. 3 pick for veteran help. Both Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller are considered possible future All-Stars. Players like that on rookie deals are among the most valuable commodities in basketball. But Bridges is young, on a relatively inexpensive deal himself and plays the scarcest position in basketball at small forward. He's the sort of player that almost never gets traded, and Brooklyn has done nothing since the deadline to suggest that it plans to give him away.