Celtics Rival Strikes Depth-Improving Trade Before Draft

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The Boston Celtics are primarily concerned with keeping their championship-winning group intact this offseason, but that won’t stop rivals from across the league, especially in the Eastern Conference, from getting to work.

That became evident on Tuesday night.

Less than 24 hours before the start of the 2024 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks acquired forward Mikal Bridges from the Brooklyn Nets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. In exchange, Brooklyn landed a haul consisting of forward Bojan Bogdanovic, four unprotected first-round picks, a protected first-round pick from the Milwaukee Bucks, and an unprotected pick swap plus a second-round selection.

Bridges, 27, will make a short-distanced move from Brooklyn to New York — Madison Square Garden is 5.3 miles away from Barclays Center — following a solid 82-game send-off campaign with the Nets. Bridges averaged 19.6 points on 43.6% shooting from the field with 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

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Before New York lost Julius Randle to a right shoulder injury that required surgery, the Knicks were in the running for a deep playoff hunt. They advanced to the second round of the postseason but fell short of a conference finals appearance after blowing a 3-2 lead over the Pacers.

Adding Bridges, who will join fellow Villanova products in Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo, certainly helps, especially since OG Anunoby — the organization’s trade deadline addition — opted out of his contract. Bridges, Brunson, Hart and DiVincenzo won an NCAA title together in 2016 at Villanova.

Watching the Celtics cruise through the postseason with their 16-3 record has already prompted some early offseason activity throughout the NBA. The Thunder acquired guard Alex Caruso from the Bulls in exchange for Josh Giddey, but trades are coming as Bostonn expected following its 18th title.

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“I don’t know what the league’s gonna look like in three weeks so who knows,” Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens told reporters Tuesday, per NBC Sports Boston. “But I know this: human nature’s gonna be another huge opponent, all of our opponents, when you win, the other 29 teams target you, and it’s a different thing to come back from to then be great again. But that’s a fun challenge too.”

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