Should the Houston Rockets trade for Mikal Bridges this summer?

Mikal Bridges is being linked to the Houston Rockets - again.
Mikal Bridges is being linked to the Houston Rockets - again. / Al Bello/GettyImages

"Don't rush the rebuild!"

You see this a lot if you're around the Houston Rockets on X. For some fans, above all else, we must not rush the rebuild. Any trade of any significance would be a major faux pas.

Fair enough. There's merit in sticking to your timeline. With that said, an NBA team's timeline isn't static like - well, real time. An NBA team's timeline is alterable. The NBA's general managers are time travellers.

Granted, we've seen teams perilously rush their rebuild. They'll push their chips in before they're confident enough in their hand, and get sent away from the table.

Should the Rockets risk making that mistake by trading for Mikal Bridges?

Houston Rockets rival considering rebuild

This isn't an innovative topic. It's old hand. Yet, it's the topic de jour (that's the last bit of Franglish in this article, we promise).

If the Nets are leaning towards a rebuild, it likely means Bridges is available. Moreover, if the Nets are leaning towards a rebuild, the Rockets have assets that they need more than anything else - their own draft capital.

So, this may be an old topic - but it's got new legs. If Bridges is available, speculation that the Nets would opt to move him to the Rockets to regain control of their future is inevitable.

Is it the right move for the Rockets?

The pros of Houston Rockets trading for Mikal Bridges

We're going to be transparent here. No, we're going to be so transparent that we break the fourth wall:

I, personally, would like to trade for Bridges at the right price. Here's the price I'd pay:


The Rockets shouldn't part with any one of their "core six" to land Bridges. They shouldn't give up their swap rights on the 2025 Nets pick, either.

That's the Cooper Flagg draft. Do yourself a favor (if you're a Rockets fan) and picture the Nets with Dillon Brooks instead of Mikal Bridges.

Brooks is a shot creator - in his own mind. In practice, his forrays into isolation basketball tend to produce results that fall somewhere between "bad" and "horrifying".

Bridges is decidedly not a franchise-caliber player. The 2023-24 season proved this. Still, he can create his own shot. When he was on the Phoenix Suns, he was never asked to do that. He was simply the best 3-and-D wing in the NBA instead.

After landing in Brooklyn, the defense regressed. We're willing to chaulk that up to his increased offensive responsibility. The best version of Bridges is likely as a third option who's occasionally called upon to create, but is largely responsible for spacing the floor and guarding the point of attack.

The Rockets can't guarantee him that role in 2024-25. Unless Jalen Green takes a step forward next year, Bridges would be the second option behind Alperen Sengun on this team.

That's still a more suitable role than the one Bridges has had in Brooklyn. That's a simple benefit of making this deal: the Rockets upgrade their roster by a considerable margin.

More broadly, the benefit of making the trade outlined above is that it strengthens the Rockets while weakening the Nets. If the Rockets can land a superstar through the stacked 2025 draft because losing Bridges causes the Nets to go from bad to worse, that will be worth more than the 2026 and 2027 picks combined.

Think about it. The Rockets are brimming with young talent. They don't have an undeniable franchise player. Would you prefer them to add Cooper Flagg (or Ace Bailey), or the 8th pick in 2026 and the 11th pick in 2027?

The Nets will never have any incentive to lose if they don't control their draft. If they trade Bridges to another team this summer, they'll use the picks they receive in that trade to make another trade for a superstar as soon as they can.

It's a conundrum. The Rockets want the Nets to be bad because they own their picks. The Nets don't want to be bad because the Rockets own their picks. So, the most effective solution would be to ensure that the Nets are (really) bad ahead of the best draft, and sacrifice the rest of their picks.

Is that a foolproof plan?

The cons of the Houston Rockets trading for Mikal Bridges

Bridges is on an excellent contract - for now. His pay is below market value next year, and the year after. Ahead of 2026-27, he'll be due to hit unrestricted free agency.

So, the Rockets do accelerate their timeline by making this deal. They'll want to be a 50-win team heading into that summer. Otherwise, they won't be able to justify what's assured to be a lucrative new deal for Bridges.

The 2025 draft is strong, but it's not endlessly deep. With the flattened odds, there are no assurances that the Rockets will be in the mix for Flagg or Bailey. The Nets could be the worst team in the NBA next year, and still hand the Rockets the fifth pick. In that event, they won't be in a position to select a can't-miss franchise player.

So, where does the worst-case scenario leave them in the summer of 2026? It leaves them mediocre and with a difficult financial decision to make. The Rockets could be stuck either footing the bill for a complimentary player without a franchise player for them to compliment or losing Bridges for nothing.

Conventional wisdom would dictate that the Rockets wait until they have that franchise player before bringing in players who complement him. Sometimes, conventional wisdom is wrong. This is what we like about Bridges:

He'll compliment anyone.

Houston Rockets should make this trade

Let's say Alperen Sengun develops defensively, or develops a three-point shot that makes him such an unstoppable offensive force that you'll live with his defense. There's your franchise player, and Bridges is a perfect compliment.

Suppose Amen Thompson develops the traits he'll need to be a primary playmaker. Bridges is a perfect compliment. The Rockets draft Cooper Flagg? Excellent - Bridges is a perfect compliment.

Getting the picture?

This isn't Donovan Mitchell. We were opposed to trading for him. If you trade for Mitchell, you're making a wholesale commitment to a team built around him and one other star. If that star is Sengun - the most probable outcome on this current Rockets roster - good luck defending in the playoffs with a small guard and no rim protector.

Sure, Bridges' next deal will be costly. The Rockets will be in a reasonable position to pay for it. Fred VanVleet's enormous deal has a team option the summer before Bridges is due for new money.

Let's say Bridges is a $35 million a year player. Should the Rockets avoid acquiring him now in hopes that Jabari Smith Jr., Cam Whitmore or Tari Eason will earn the same? Bridges would be a high-end outcome for any of them - on the balance of probability, it's worth taking the bird in the hand.

Meanwhile, they shed Brooks' $20 million a year deal in this trade. So, the Rockets are taking on an extra $15 million if our $35 million estimate for Bridges is accurate.

We can only crunch so many numbers here - this piece is already too long. The point is this: Bridges is likely to start at the 3 for the Rockets by virtue of merit for a half-decade if they acquire him now. If the books get too messy, you can trade other players.

Moreover, the Rockets regain control of their own draft from the Thunder by the time they'd be paying Bridges. If they haven't found their franchise player yet, they can package some of their (still) young players and those picks for a true superstar. Bridges will be there to compliment that player when they arrive.

Yet, it's finalizing the destruction of the Nets that appeals to us the most here. Sure, they're getting their 2026 and 2027 picks back. That's a cost worth paying for the Rockets if they get to own an unprotected first-round swap from a basement-dwelling squad ahead of an extremely strong draft in the summer of 2025.

Next. shouldntbeback. 4 Rockets who shouldn't be back next season. dark

If they get lucky, the rebuild may rush itself.