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Expert Predicts Knicks Trade for Another Villanova Star

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Bill Simmons sees the New York Knicks adding to their Villanova Wildcat litter.

With the Knicks’ season over, fantasy basketball is officially back in vogue in Manhattan, especially considering how close they came to championship glory this time around. Simmons, a longtime columnist known for his love of the Boston Celtics, believes that the Knicks will make a play for current Brooklyn Nets star Mikal Bridges … but perhaps couldn’t help but let his Beantown bias seep in his analysis.

“I really think they’re going to get Mikal Bridges as the big target. I think that’s who they want,” Simmons said on the latest edition of his eponymous podcast. “I think they’re going to try and overpay because I think they want those four Villanova guys together, and I don’t think they want like a major star. They want somebody like that.”

Mar 23, 2024; New York, New York, USA;  Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) drives past New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) in the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 23, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) drives past New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) in the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks’ most recent effort, one that got them within one win of the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2000, was built on the success of Villanova alumni like Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart.

Behind the “Nova Knicks,” New York overcame several medical calamities to win 50 games and secure the second seed on the Eastern Conference playoff bracket, reaching each landmark for the first time in over a decade.

It’s thus no secret as to why they’d seek out further former Wildcats to join the cause as they seek to get over the second round hump that has proven too daunting over the past couple of seasons. Hart has even made several humorous attempts to land Bridges’ services, though all to date have obviously been rebuffed.

Dec 31, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA;  Villanova Wildcats guard Jalen Brunson (1) huddles with forward Eric Paschall (4) and guard Mikal Bridges (25) and guard Donte DiVincenzo (10) after a call against the Creighton Bluejays at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Villanova defeated Creighton 80-70. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 31, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard Jalen Brunson (1) huddles with forward Eric Paschall (4) and guard Mikal Bridges (25) and guard Donte DiVincenzo (10) after a call against the Creighton Bluejays at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Villanova defeated Creighton 80-70. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Bridges plays across town in Brooklyn, which brought him in as the primary yield of the trade that sent Kevin Durant to Phoenix. The 2016 collegiate national champion is the de facto headliner of the current Nets franchise, one that sent away Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving as the admittance of failure in another superteam experiment. Bridges, however, struggled in his first year as a main attraction, averaging 19.6 point on 43.6 percent shooting, the latter being his lowest average since hi rookie season in Phoenix.

If there’s one quality of Bridges that would be very attractive to the frequently-shorthanded Knicks, it’s his ability to stay on the floor: Bridges has not missed a regular season game due to injury in any of his first six tours and even wound up becoming just the 42nd player in NBA history to player more than 82 in a single year during last year’s swap between Brooklyn and Phoenix.

Bartering for Bridges … especially with an in-city rival … would likely require the Knicks to send a veteran or two Brooklyn’s way, but there’s no doubt they have the draft capital to sacrifice in such a deal: Manhattan is currently armed with four first-round picks over the next two drafts, including two in the upcoming selections next month. Brooklyn does not have a first-round choice after trading what eventually became the third pick to Houston for Harden’s services in 2021.

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