Things can always change — and trade requests by All-NBA guards Damian Lillard and James Harden will eventually stir things up the closer the NBA gets to training camp — but Mikal Bridges said Sunday he thinks the Nets roster is “pretty much” set and that leaves him “excited.”
The 26-year-old who’s become the face of the franchise since being traded to the Nets at the deadline also expressed confidence in Jacque Vaughn who after two interim gigs will finally start a season with his own staff, his own ideas.
In an exclusive conversation with Brian Lewis at his basketball camp in Lower Manhattan’s Basketball City Sunday, Bridges was asked if he thought what the Nets have now will be the team that shows up for camp on October 3.
“Yeah, pretty much, I think so. And I’m pretty excited about it,” Bridges told The Post. “I mean, I love the guys that we’ve got, just bring everybody back and finally go through preseason and new coaching staff and for Jacque [Vaughn] just to have his preseason and have his coaching staff whoever he wants and put what he wants coming in for him.
“I kind of forget when I got traded there that he came in because Steve [Nash] got fired, so he had to kind of [stand pat]. [Last season], he had that awkward where it’s not really all you because the assistant and the head [coach], you guys can have the same things but people have different type of schemes and foundations and stuff.”
Indeed, Vaughn remade his staff over the summer, promoting assistant coach Adam Caporn to director of player development and adding development-centric assistants in Kevin Ollie, who led UConn to a national championship in 2014 and mentored the Thompson twins last season at Overtime Elite; Ronnie Burrell, the Long Island Nets head coach who was G League coach of the year; Will Weaver, who had also been a G League coach of the year and head coach of teams in the Australian and French leagues; as well as Corey Vinson, who worked with Bridges and Cam Johnson in Phoenix.
“So, just excited for him to have a preseason, have his guys he wants around and pretty much have it his way. And I’m excited for us to all be together and have these schemes from jump, [instead of] being thrown out there with three different teams in one lineup and just trying to go figure it out. So I’m definitely excited.”
The “three different teams,” of course, were the remnants of the Nets after Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were traded in the three days before the deadline and the returns for the two superstars from Phoenix and Dallas.
Currently, the Nets have 14 players on standard NBA deals, one of which, newly signed Darius Bazley, won’t even be partially guaranteed until Opening Night. They also have two two-ways in Jalen Wilson and Armoni Brooks so there’s an opening there as well. All told, the Nets have added five new players to the main roster, including two rookies, while keeping nine, as small a turnover as there has been in the Sean Marks era. The big losses were Joe Harris and Patty Mills, who were traded in salary dumps to Detroit and Houston, and Seth Curry who signed with Dallas. They also didn’t exercise Edmond Sumner’s team option.
Historically, the Nets have made only minor changes between the end of July and the beginning of camp. In the past two off-seasons, the biggest late move was the 2022 salary dump of DeAndre Jordan.
Bridges also spoke about how he’s happy to have Johnson signed to a new four-year, $94.5 million (guaranteed) deal. The team’s highest priority along with getting Ben Simmons healthy adds to the team’s stability and continuity, he told Lewis.
“Oh, [it’s] great,” Bridges said. “That was one of the biggest things I was just hoping for and nervous about other teams.
“I think Detroit was in talks a lot, and I know Monty [Williams] is over there, so I’m just like, ‘All right now, calm down. Don’t take Twin away.’ So definitely very, very for the team — outside my selfish reasons, but for the team — big-time. We need Cam. And for him to get paid and kind of get that baby weight off his shoulders, I think it’s great for the team and great for him.”
Bridges and Johnson will soon depart for Las Vegas for Team USA training camp which opens in 10 days, then a series of international exhibitions before the FIBA World Cup which opens on August 25 in Manila.
- Mikal Bridges doesn’t expect any additional Nets splashes this offseason - Brian Lewis - New York Post