Did the Utah Jazz pressure the Knicks to pay a premium price for Mikal Bridges?

After the Knicks completed their trade for Mikal Bridges, Jake Fischer reported the Jazz's interest. But was it real, or were there ulterior motives involved?
Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets
Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

After Yahoo Sports! Jake Fischer confirmed the Utah Jazz's interest in Mikal Bridges on June 24, the New York Knicks pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal for Bridges. Said blockbuster deal included the following, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Shoutout to former Jazzman Bojan Bogdanovic for getting another fresh start, but needless to say, that's a pretty hefty fee for a non-All-Star like Bridges. For all intents and purposes, Bridges is an excellent basketball player. He's been a valuable contributor on an NBA Finals team, but when the Nets made him their head honcho, an All-Star, he was not.

For what it's worth, scoring near-20 points a game while providing solid perimeter defense is all well and good. But it's all for naught when the team's not winning at the rate they should. Bridges is one of the NBA's top 50 players, but giving up the farm for him is something the Knicks might second-guess a few years down the line, even while factoring in the sentimental aspect of it all.

However, maybe there's more to this than meets the eye. That high bid for Bridges may have been a result of the Knicks bidding against other interested suitors like the Jazz reportedly were. Bridges could have potentially been a building block in Utah, but what if the Jazz's interest wasn't really that genuine while they had ulterior motives in mind?

Even though the Rockets had the edge, the Jazz had the advantage of offering an ocean of first-round picks for the Nets to choose from. Using that could have very well convinced the Knicks to give up the farm for him. It's speculation, sure, but knowing how Danny Ainge plays the long game, it's feasible.

Why it makes sense for the Jazz to do that

By pushing the Knicks to sell off their entire future for Bridges, the Jazz also may have been helping themselves if they follow through on selling off the reportedly available Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson, as reported by HoopsHype's Michael Scotto. It could set the market for them to extrapolate more assets.

The odds of them getting the same return for those two that the Knicks just got for Bridges are laughable. But they may have just helped themselves get more than what they are worth. The Knicks' desperation led to the Nets getting a haul for someone who is not a star. Granted, the Villanova ties played a part, but it still makes teams who want playoff success think about how badly they want to get to that next level.

This would all depend on whether the Jazz embrace the rebuild. While Sexton and Clarkson could be traded, there are no indications that the Jazz will trade Lauri Markkanen. At the very least, if this is what the Jazz intended with the Bridges bidding war, it gives them more options to either have more draft assets or a good offer when the next star becomes available.

This is the advantage of being a team with assets in their arsenal. They can drive up the price for guys like Mikal Bridges, and in turn, get more assets from players than they would have beforehand. The Jazz have some decisions to make, but at the very least, they have some leverage on their side.