The Brooklyn Nets are in a weird place in the NBA right now. After their superstar experiment of having Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (with James Harden in town for a cup of coffee) guide them to the promised land turned into a nightmare, Brooklyn is now somewhere in the middle.
Thanks to the Harden trade, the Houston Rockets essentially own Brooklyn’s future. So, it wouldn’t make sense for the Nets to tank because that strategy would only benefit Houston. However, thanks to the Durant and Irving trades, Brooklyn is not close to being a contender at this point.
The Nets do own a considerable amount of draft capital and have some nice, young players like Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Nic Claxton. Brooklyn has a lot to consider moving forward and thankfully, Bleacher Report may have the trade that could put the Nets in the best position for their future:
The mock trade
Portland Trail Blazers receive: Mikal Bridges and Royce O’Neale
Brooklyn Nets receive: Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, 2024 second-round pick (via CHA or MIN) and 2025 first-round pick (top-three protected)
Should the Nets do this trade?
While Brooklyn would be getting a couple of good, young players in Simons and Sharpe along with draft picks, parting with Bridges would be a tough sell to the Nets’ fanbase. Bridges is arguably Brooklyn’s best player on both ends of the floor and at this point, he has the most promising future of any of the players involved in the mock trade. Simons has improved immensely in the last two seasons and he could the kind of lead guard that the Nets are looking for.
Verdict: No, Brooklyn should not do this trade.
What B/R thinks of the trade
“Portland doesn’t have a ton of chips to push around, but if it sends out the lottery-protected pick it owes the Chicago Bulls this summer, that would open the possibility of trading away the 2025 first. It could also put the Blazers in line to make a bold move for Mikal Bridges, who could team with Jerami Grant (assuming he’s re-signed) to form exactly the kind of lanky, athletic, two-way wing tandem Portland has long needed around Lillard.
Bridges’ ceiling sits somewhere between stardom and starring in his role, but having Lillard as an elite alpha could give Portland a championship-level pecking order. The Blazers would need to fill in the cracks around these three, but netting three-and-D swingman Royce O’Neale in this exchange would be a start.
Brooklyn, meanwhile, has little incentive to bottom out with all of the draft picks it owes the Houston Rockets, but the Nets should be very much in the asset-collection game.
Anfernee Simons is 23 years old and right on the cusp of offensive stardom. Shaedon Sharpe is 19 years old and already on the short list of the league’s most explosive athletes. If the Nets nailed his development, he could be a star. Throw in a lightly protected first and a second that could land early in the round, and that’s too much value for Brooklyn to pass up.”