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The Brooklyn Nets have had an incredibly disappointing 2023-24 season. At 32-48 with two games left to play, they have long-since been eliminated from postseason contention. Their roster lacks a clear direction, and they won't even benefit from their poor season in the NBA Draft as their first-round pick belongs to the Houston Rockets.

These struggles have led to plenty of rumors about the future of one of their few valuable players: Mikal Bridges. Teams tried to swipe Bridges as soon as he was acquired at the 2023 trade deadline. The Rockets reportedly tried as well in the lead up to the 2024 deadline. The Nets haven't budged. Their plan is still to put a winner around Bridges. Of course, plenty of bad teams plan to put winners around their best player. Those plans tend to fall apart the instant that player decides he can do better elsewhere.

Fortunately, Bridges doesn't seem to have a wandering eye. "My intention is definitely to stay here," Bridges said Tuesday, according to the New York Post. "I got nowhere else to be."

Players rarely declare their intent to leave before they are absolutely ready to do so, but Bridges' declaration appears genuine. Ahead of Wednesday's game against the Toronto Raptors, Bridges addressed the Brooklyn crowd and apologized for the team's struggles.

"We appreciate you guys coming out this year," Bridges said. "I know it's been a tough year, but we appreciate you guys hanging on with us. We'll be back next year."

The Nets have a brief window in which they are primed to actually put a winner around Bridges. He is under contract for the next two seasons at a salary that is well below his fair market value. Brooklyn's goal is seemingly to acquire an All-Star in that time frame that would allow Bridges to slide more comfortably into a sidekick role that would help him find a more comfortable balance between the defense and shooting that made him special in Phoenix and the individual shot-creation he's cultivated in Brooklyn.

The Nets certainly have the assets to trade for a star. They have a mountain of draft picks from the Suns, Mavericks and 76ers after trading Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. The New York market has always been able to attract stars, and reports have linked Donovan Mitchell, a Westchester native, to the city for years now. Such an acquisition could bring the Nets back into the thick of the playoff race.

That plan relied on having a committed Bridges. On the surface, that was no certainty, but when a player is openly willing to accept accountability for his team's failures in front of the fans, it becomes hard to imagine that player bolting in the near future. For now, at least, the Nets have their first core building block. The next stage in building their roster will be finding another one.