Bleacher Report names Brooklyn wing as 'dream' trade target for Cavaliers

Mikal Bridges named the best possible trade candidate for Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets
Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

Since the end of their season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been among the top teams involved in trade speculation despite reported hesitancy to trade away core pieces.

Once eliminated, the Cavs were the subject of a tell-all article by The Athletic, detailing the impending trade possibilities facing Cleveland's club. As Donovan Mitchell's contract extension likelihood improves, the chance that Darius Garland requests a trade equally grows. In the case that Garland is on the move, the Cavaliers need to maximize his potential value to bring back complementary high-end players to place alongside Mitchell and Evan Mobley.

With various stars on the trade block this summer, including Trae Young and Jimmy Butler, the 24-year-old All-Star guard still holds immense value as a long-term star piece for another aspiring contender. During Garland's initial All-Star season in 2021-22, he spurred the Cavs' rebuild into the next step. Whether he joins a growing contender or rebuilding organization, Garland can impact winning and elevate his teammates with elite court vision and playmaking.

In a new offseason trade piece, Bleacher Report named a "dream" trade target for each of the NBA's 30 franchises. For the Cavaliers, B/R suggested the league's most sought-after star combo wing.

Mikal Bridges named "dream" offseason trade target for Cleveland

Since leaving the Phoenix Suns as part of the Kevin Durant trade, Mikal Bridges flourished as a growing star with the Brooklyn Nets. Unfortunately, the Nets have been unable to build a contender around Bridges, leading to rumors that his tenure with Brooklyn will eventually be cut short.

With Garland's age and talent, B/R discussed a Garland-for-Bridges swap as a fair deal for both sides. Though Bridges is still young, the 27-year-old forward is outside of Brooklyn's current timeline. Garland, though, could turn around the Nets' situation for years to come.

Last season, Bridges averaged 19.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists and Brooklyn's top option on offense. Despite recording one of the best years of his career, the Nets missed the playoffs once more and seem on the brink of being forced into a total rebuild. B/R's article detailed the two-way dominance a starting lineup composed of Mitchell, Max Strus, Bridges, Mobley and Jarrett Allen could showcase in the league next season. Bridges has built a reputation in the Association as an elite 3-and-D wing with All-Star potential. Pairing Bridges with Mitchell would upgrade Cleveland's offensive versatility while adding another defensive force on the perimeter.

This offseason, Bridges makes sense as the Cavs' dream target, considering his talent and team-friendly contract. Compared to Brandon Ingram, Paul George and other rumored options, Bridges' combination of two-way talent at his pay scale put him above his counterparts. Regardless of the fit for Garland and Bridges on the respective new teams, the path to adding Bridges for the Cavaliers would be incredibly competitive.

The Cavaliers will face heavy competition in the Bridges sweepstakes

As trade rumors build, the Houston Rockets have reentered the arena to steal Bridges from Brooklyn with the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft in a rumored three-team deal with the Memphis Grizzlies and Nets. The Rockets' interest in Bridges goes back to this season's trade deadline when Brooklyn reportedly declined a deal involving multiple first-round picks and Jalen Green in return for the veteran wing.

Looping in the Grizzlies as the third team gives the Rockets a chance to renegotiate and finally land their coveted target. With Green's mid-season surge, Houston might be more hesitant to part ways with the growing star this summer. If the Rockets alter their trade package to exclude Green, the Cavaliers could reemerge as a strong potential suitor.

Stealing Bridges would kill any potential move for Cleveland and the Nets this offseason, but the Cavs could still outbid Houston this summer alongside the Grizzlies. In an earlier mock trade proposal, the Cavaliers could coordinate a massive return for Brooklyn if Cleveland is willing to move on from both Garland and Allen at once. Ahead of the Houston rumors, Memphis showed reported interest in Allen, creating a pathway to a successful three-team deal.

While the Cavaliers do not have a wealth of trade assets to offer, they do employ numerous exciting young players rival teams would love to have. Garland and Allen are the two most likely to join the trade block as Cleveland retools their starting lineup to find better cohesion on offense. Since the Nets do not control their own draft picks, packages surrounding elite young players answer Brooklyn's needs far more than a stockpile of hopeful picks. If the Cavs are willing to take initiative to improve this summer, moving both Garland and Allen to return Bridges and more would be a major step forward for the franchise's hopes at contention.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will have to outbid plenty of willing bidders for Mikal Bridges, but they must explore the possible route to add B/R's dream target. Adding Bridges gives Cleveland an ideal second star next to Donovan Mitchell and places them in the realm of true contenders in the Eastern Conference.

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