Former NBA champ slams Knicks’ Mikal Bridges trade as a road toward a rebuild

Mikal Bridges, Knicks
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Golden State Warriors four-time NBA champion Draymond Green is not feeling the New York Knicks’ trade for Mikal Bridges.

Draymond Green slams the Knicks’ Mikal Bridges trade

Draymond Green, Knicks
Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Green remained outspoken in a recent episode on his eponymous podcast “The Draymond Green Show,” scolding the Knicks for giving up too much to get Bridges. The Michigan State product declared that not only are the Knicks still not better than the reigning champion Boston Celtics, but they also resemble a formidable contender that he had to fend off in the Western Conference a few years back (h/t Stefan Bondy of the New York Post):

“So you got a year or two like the Houston Rockets. I don’t know if y’all remember the Rockets when we [the Warriors] were on our run. … You got two years and it’s oops, that didn’t work. Clint Capela is gone. The first domino falls. And then once the first domino falls, that’s it. It’s gone from there. That’s what I think is going to happen. That’s how I see it playing out. If it don’t work, that’s exactly how it will play out. So you heard it here first,” Green said.

“The Knicks are in a space where they’re going for it, and I respect it, I think you got to go for it at some point,” Green added. “But what just happened with the trade was that you know if this doesn’t work in two to three years, the Knicks will be rebuilding again because they traded all their picks away, and then they’ll be trying to trade those guys, get picks back and that’s kind of how it all plays out.”

Knicks: Mikal Bridges may just be the answer to stop the top teams in the East next year

Knicks, Mikal Bridges
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In Bridges’ defense, he is one of the premier defenders in the league today. From the Knicks’ vantage point, they have to approach next season with the mindset of, “how can we stop Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in Boston and contain the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers’ formidable offenses?”

Objectively, there are few small forwards who are better equipped to hold the aforementioned Celtics stars, along with 76ers star Paul George and Bucks stars Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo better than the “Preying Mantis.”

Then, the Knicks need to be pragmatic and try to counteract the wave of injuries that plagued their roster last season. Bridges is an ironman in the Association whose energy levels on both ends of the floor are virtually unparalleled. As for what he brings from a production standpoint, the Villanova product is good for 20 points per game as an efficient three-point marksman who can find his own shot. Is that good enough to be a No. 2 option for New York next year?

Bridges has the potential to be great for the Knicks and contribute to a title effort

Jan 23, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) talks to New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Prior champions have won with secondary options scoring just a hair over 20 PPG. Kobe Bryant helped turn the Los Angeles Lakers into a dynasty by averaging 22.5 points a night on 46.8 percent shooting from the field in L.A.’s first championship season in 1999-2000. Middleton looked like a carbon copy of Bryant on the stat sheet in 2020-21, helping will the Bucks to a title behind 20.4 points on 47.6 percent shooting from the floor. That doesn’t even take into account other greats of yesteryear like Scottie Pippen, Tony Parker, and Tommy Heinsohn who thrived in secondary, and in some cases even tertiary roles while getting their buckets.

Of course, Bridges has a mountain to climb to be mentioned next to those all-time greats in terms of accomplishments and esteem, but it’s hard to challenge his offensive arsenal and defensive prowess. Even the league’s premier on-ball defender Kawhi Leonard does not guard 94 feet regularly in order to conserve energy on offense.

The Knicks have a small forward in Bridges who can do that at head coach Tom Thibodeau’s beckoning, while facilitating for himself on the other end and can take breaks on offense by fading out to the corners, where he just so happens to be one of the most elite snipers from that zone in the NBA.

Bridges will have to perform on the court to bring such projections to fruition in 2024-25. At the very least, the Knicks have an A-grade No. 3 option ready to suit up on Broadway next year. They may need to address their Julius Randle situation to avoid falling victim to Green’s prognosis next year, as good as Randle can be.

Yes, seven future draft picks given up, one of which the Knicks got back from the Brooklyn Nets in their deal for the 27-year-old, may be a lot, but they weren’t tossed into the deal on top of a marquee player. The Knicks are in win-now mode. Jalen Brunson is at the peak of his powers. The Knicks have a young, spry, and energetic team that has brought life to Madison Square Garden and has been in one of the worst championship droughts across the four major American team sports for decades. Worst case scenario, as Green alluded to, the Knicks could trade one of their talents to get a couple of those picks back if the experiment fails. But it’d be worth it either way.

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