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Lewis: Forget a down-to-the-studs rebuild

The trade deadline is still three weeks away from Thursday, but team direction is an everyday thing and the Nets seem ready to continue retooling.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Nets ownership and management have always known that winning while rebuilding — or retooling — is difficult business. But they also believe that tearing it down to the studs, selling off everything and starting over can be, as Brian Lewis reports Wednesday, can be “financial suicide” in the New York market.

But tearing it down to the studs like the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz did in recent years is financial suicide. There are far, far too many other entertainment options available to the paying customer.

So despite the team’s woeful record and increasing controversy — see fan reaction to end-of-game decisions in the loss to Miami — don’t expect any big trades involving the team’s bulwarks like Mikal Bridges. In fact, the Nets rejected an offer for Bridges at the deadline last year that would have brought back four first rounders.

Nets sources confirmed the team did reject an offer of four first-round draft picks for Bridges, and Hoopshype has since reported that said offer came from the Memphis Grizzlies.

Suppose, asks Lewis, the Rockets were to offer the remaining picks from the James Harden — two unprotected firsts in 2024 and 2026 plus two first round swaps in 2025 and 2027 — in return for Bridges, would Sean Marks & co. agree.

Some fans have embraced the notion that reacquiring the draft capital the Nets sent to Houston for James Harden is the only way out of their current malaise. Would Tsai and Marks consider such a move?

Likely not.

While some fans want the Nets to dump Bridges and make Cam Thomas “the man.” the Nets, wrote Lewis, still intend to build around the 27-year-old who is having a career year.

Bridges is averaging a team-best 21.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists, all career-highs. He’s played solid defense and is well-regarded in the building. Dealing him would signal a tearing it down to the studs.

The Nets, according to Lewis and a slew of other sources, including our own, are making other players available, specifically Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale. “Seeing at least one if not two moved in the comings weeks seems likely,” Lewis wrote. Brooklyn reportedly wants two first-rounders or equivalents like young players for DFS, one for O’Neale.

Who would the target be? The Nets are notoriously close-mouthed about trade talks, but in the last two days, there have been increasing signs that the Nets’ rumored interest in Dejounte Murray, the Hawks’ 6’5” point guard is real.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN in his Hoop Collective podcast out Monday said, “keep an eye on Brooklyn,” when discussing teams interested in Murray and Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report on Tuesday in talking Lakers’ interest, wrote: “Other teams linked by sources to Murray include the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and one surprise dark horse—the Spurs.”

A NetsDaily source said much the same, “They have interest in Dejounte Murray. They are desperate for a point guard.”

The Hawks are believed to want two first round picks and an expiring contract for Murray who last July signed a four-year, $114 million extension. He’s 27.

Of course, the Nets had a point guard at the beginning of the season in Ben Simmons but he hasn’t played since November 6. It’s widely anticipated that Simmons will be back on the court soon, perhaps after the Nets return from their West Coast road trip. Would a healthy, productive Simmons change the calculus on the Nets trade plans?

It does seem that Dinwiddie’s time with the Nets is at an end ... again. On Tuesday, he posted this cryptic message on Instragram, adding to that belief.

As Lewis wrote, Dinwiddie is struggling with a -90 +/- over the last five games.

Is any of this imminent? It doesn’t appear so. If the Nets have multiple teams interested in their three 30-somethings and the Hawks in the same situation with Murray, we could see bidding wars right up to the 3:00 p.m. trade deadline on February 8.