Knicks’ Mikal Bridges speaks on massive role and playing big minutes

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

The Knicks introduced new star forward Mikal Bridges on Tuesday afternoon, having him answer some basic questions and express his excitement for the journey ahead. The 6-foot-6, 209-pound wing will fill a major need for New York, who desperately needed to add another defensive presence with great scoring capabilities.

Bridges’ Impressive Track Record and Expectations With the Knicks

This past season, Bridges played 82 games, averaging 19.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and shot .436 from the field and .372 from downtown. Bridges has played over 70 games in all six of his professional seasons, including a minimum of 82 for three consecutive years. That type of reliability is exactly what the Knicks need moving forward, especially since OG Anunoby has a spotty health history and Mitchell Robinson only played 31 games this past season.

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

Stepping Up in the Face of Challenges

Obviously, it’s fair to mention that Julius Randle suffered a significant shoulder injury that forced him out for the latter portion of the season. Consequently, Bridges will be asked to contribute early and often, especially if injuries mount at any point. Some are concerned about his minutes being increased substantially, but Bridges is accustomed to that type of workload. He played 35.7 minutes per game during the 2022–23 season, more than Jalen Brunson has averaged at any point in his career. In fact, he’s averaged more minutes per game in his career than Julius Randle, so his usage shouldn’t be a problem under Tom Thibodeau.

“Thibs a great coach. Who doesn’t wanna play all the time?…I fit…Y’all must not have been watching me in Phoenix; Coach Monty…the man played me 50-something minutes against De’Aaron Fox…& I was sick as a bat, couldn’t breathe.

Strategic Financial Moves and Team Synergy

The Knicks ultimately made this move because the contract fit perfectly with the offloading of Bojan Bogdanovic and future draft capital. Bridges is set to count $23.3 million against the cap this upcoming season, whereas Bogdanovic saved the team $17 million. The salary increase is marginal and almost negligible.

Bridges joining his former Villanova teammates Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart only helps reinforce the team’s chemistry long-term. The Knicks have a strong core at the helm of their roster for the next few seasons, opening up a serious championship window they need to capitalize on.

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