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Report: Knicks acquire Bridges from Nets

Brooklyn Nets Mikal Bridges - The Canadian Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Mikal Bridges is being traded by the Brooklyn Nets to the New York Knicks, where he will join Jalen Brunson and his other former Villanova teammates, two people with knowledge of the details said Tuesday.

The first trade between the New York rivals since 1983 will put Bridges in the lineup alongside Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo, players who helped the Wildcats win two NCAA championships and were the core of a Knicks lineup that reached the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.

The Knicks will pay big to get him, with ESPN reporting that they are sending Bojan Bogdanovic to the Nets along with four unprotected first-round picks and one protected pick. The deal was confirmed to The Associated Press under condition of anonymity because it is not yet official.

The Nets acquired Bridges from Phoenix in the deal for Kevin Durant in February 2023 and he went on to average 26.1 points the rest of that season in helping Brooklyn reach the playoffs. The swingman scored 19.6 per game in 2023-24 but the Nets slipped to 32-50 and missed the postseason.

And while his team was struggling, he couldn't help but notice how much fun his friends were having just a few miles away. The Nets signed Brunson in the summer of 2022, traded for Hart in the 2022-23 season and then signed DiVincenzo last summer, and the Knicks have reached the second round in both seasons.

The four players helped Villanova win the 2016 NCAA title, and Brunson, Bridges and DiVincenzo were still there when the Wildcats won again in 2018.

They clearly can't wait to get the band back together.

“This is crazy lol,” Bridges wrote on the social media platform X after the deal was reported.

Hart posted a picture of what appeared to be the four players smiling during a group video call.

The teams hadn’t made a deal since 1983, when the Nets were still in New Jersey and sent Len Elmore to New York for a future draft pick. This one gives Brooklyn more picks to build through the draft or package in further trades.

The Knicks had picks to move and have been looking to strengthen a team that has been on the rise. They were a game away from their first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals since 2000 last season despite losing a number of key players to injuries before and during the postseason.

Their new addition, on the other hand, doesn't get hurt.

Bridges was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 and is currently the NBA's most durable player, which should quickly make him a favorite of Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau. He has played in all 474 games in his career — and never missed a game in college, either — and led the league in minutes played in both 2021-22 and 2022-23.