Knicks solve OG Anunoby dilemma with massive trade for Mikal Bridges

The New York Knicks have pulled the trigger on a trade for Mikal Bridges! Suddenly, the leverage has shifted in the OG Anunoby negotiations.
New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets
New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

The New York Knicks have officially kickstarted the 2024 NBA offseason with a stunning trade. Faced with the possibility of losing OG Anunoby to free agency, New York went on the offensive and brought in a player who could potentially act as his replacement—or, perhaps, his perfect complement.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Knicks have acquired Brooklyn Nets swingman and former Villanova Wildcats star Mikal Bridges.

It's a massive deal that suddenly presents the Knicks with a championship window following a 50-win season in 2023-24.

Bridges, 27, is widely regarded as one of the most capable two-way wings in the NBA. He earned All-Defense honors in 2021-22 and increased his scoring average across each of his first five professional seasons, settling in at a strong 19.6 points per game in 2023-24.

Bridges also has the distinction of having played every game possible during his NBA career, including 83 in 2022-23 and 82 in 2023-24.

Knicks go all in on Villanova reunion with Mikal Bridges trade

The acquisition of Bridges completes the reunion of the core players from the 2016 National Champions. Bridges, along with Knicks standouts Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart, led Villanova to the title that season, with Hart going to the NBA one year later.

Bridges, Brunson, and DiVincenzo then led the Wildcats to a second National Championship in 2018, thus completing a legendary run at the NCAA level.

The Knicks will now look to recreate that magic as All-NBA stars Brunson and Julius Randle lead a team that has Villanova DNA coursing through its veins. Defense will continue to be the identity under head coach Tom Thibodeau, while the offense just added a player who has bordered on All-Star status.

Perhaps most important to the short-term, however, is the fact that New York just gained leverage in its ongoing negotiations with Anunoby.

Anunoby is an unrestricted free agent who's expected to command an average of at least $35 million per season. Negotiations have yet to yield a definitive result, but the acquisition of Bridges has given New York a potential replacement, if not the perfect perimeter partner.

Re-signing Anunoby would mean creating one of the best perimeter-defending tandems in the NBA, while losing him would be cushioned by adding Bridges in his place.

It's too soon to know how it will all play out beyond this move, but the Knicks just proved that they're willing to do what's necessary to contend. Coming off of a season in which they won 50 games and reached the second round of the playoffs, New York has added one of the best available players on the open market.

With chemistry already established and a head coach who's adequately suited to coach this unique collection of talent, the Knicks look as ready as ever to end the championship drought.