Mikal Bridges continues to draw plenty of interest on the trade market even though reports have come out stating that the Brooklyn Nets see him as a foundational star. Teams continue to call the Nets' bluff as they try to entice them into giving Bridges up so that they could recoup some assets following a terrible year in which they gave up the third overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft to the Houston Rockets courtesy of the James Harden trade. But in a bit of a twist, the Utah Jazz could potentially emerge as a landing spot for the Nets forward.

The Jazz, as Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports pointed out, could be on the prowl for a big swing that takes the team's rebuild to the next level. Even though the Jazz aren't yet the closest team to playoff contention, Fischer pointed out that they contemplated a push for Damian Lillard or Jrue Holiday last year. For this offseason, Bridges has become the “player to monitor among Utah's aggressive aspirations”.

There will be a few teams, however, vying for Mikal Bridges' services other than the Jazz. The Houston Rockets' interest in the Nets forward has been well-documented, while the New York Knicks, thanks to the Villanova connection with Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo, could also make a play for the 27-year old wing.

Bridges still has two years left on his deal, and the Nets hold him in very high regard, as evidenced by the reported trade package that they refused from the Rockets, so pulling off a trade for him will not be easy whatsoever. Nonetheless, the Jazz should have the assets to swing a blockbuster trade of such magnitude. But will it be worth it for them, especially when they're not a piece of Bridges' caliber away from contending?

Assessing the Jazz's options

The Jazz are entering the third year of their rebuild after they traded away the foundational pieces of the previous contending iterations of the team. The 2023-24 season was a bit of a step back for Utah, as they finished with a 31-51 record — six games worse than the prior campaign.

There is reason to be excited if one is a fan of the Jazz franchise. Lauri Markkanen continues to be one of the best and most efficient scorers in the league, Collin Sexton appears to be all the way back from the torn meniscus he suffered in 2021, while Keyonte George appears to be a long-term keeper for the team. Brice Sensabaugh and Taylor Hendricks, two of their picks from the 2023 NBA Draft, flashed their solid potential as well.

But there remains a lack of a foundational star for the Jazz; Markkanen, for as good as he is, is at his best when doing his damage off the ball and off screens. He is not much of a playmaker and a creator off the bounce, projecting to be an elite-level complementary player instead. But will this be the offseason when this changes for the Jazz?

Whatever the case may be, the Jazz should have the assets to swing a trade; in addition to having the 10th, 29th, and 32nd picks of this year's draft, they still have the tradeable contracts of John Collins and Jordan Clarkson to use in any prospective trade. Walker Kessler, who appears to have fallen out of favor in his sophomore season (he started in fewer games and put up worse per-36 numbers than his rookie campaign), could be a trade candidate as well in a more aggressive win-now deal.

Mikal Bridges: an elite support player, a so-so top guy

Mikal Bridges turned heads around the league when he put up 26 points per game on 47/38/89 shooting splits after the Nets acquired him as one of the centerpieces in the Kevin Durant trade. Bridges looked like he had arrived as a solid, high-floor number one guy and an overqualified number two on a contending team. Alas, Bridges was not able to sustain this pace for an entire season, with his numbers falling off during the 2023-24 campaign.

With the increased defensive attention surrounding him, Bridges put up his worst true shooting since his rookie campaign. From averaging 26 points, he averaged 19.6 — numbers that are more in line with the Phoenix Suns version of himself but without the impressive efficiency.

It has become very apparent that Mikal Bridges is not meant to be a number-one option, even on a bad team like the Nets were during the 2023-24 season. Any team that will be acquiring him via trade should adjust their expectations accordingly.