Sport NBA trade rumors: Kyrie Irving for Ben Simmons? Why Nets-76ers deal would (and wouldn't) work
James Harden on Kyrie Irving: 'I want him to be on the team'
At this point, the Nets — both management and players — say they wa nt Irving back on the court, but respect his privacy claims. “If he’s not on the court, yeah [it would hurt us]. He’s one of our best players and one of our leaders,” Harden said after practice Thursday. “I want him to be on the team, of course,” Harden told reporters when asked if he hopes Irving would get vaccinated. “He’s been a huge part since I’ve been here, a huge part of our success. The success we did have last year, we were kind of finding a rhythm, that chemistry that we’ve built.
The 2021-22 regular season is underway, but the NBA conversation is being dominated by two players who, well, may not actually play.
Ben Simmonsat the Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 11, ending a holdout that had cost him nearly $1 million. The three-time All-Star took part in some team activities, but he quickly ahead of the 76ers' season opener. It's unclear if he will take the floor for Philadelphia in the near future.
Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, the Nets finally made a firm decision on Kyrie Irving, announcing on Oct. 12 that the All-NBA guard would not practice or play with the team until he isUnder the current New York City COVID-19 guidelines, unvaccinated Knicks and Nets players are not allowed to enter their home arenas for games. Irving is not compliant with the local protocols, leaving Brooklyn to wonder when (or if) his status will change.
Will Kyrie Irving play this season? Latest news, updates on Nets star's vaccination status
Will the Nets really allow Kyrie Irving to be a part-time player? It's unclear whether the Nets would be comfortable only having Irving participate in practices and games outside of New York City or prefer to keep him away from the team until he is vaccinated. Brooklyn has been supportive of Irving and respected his decision, but the organization is only willing to bend so far.
So, there are two high-profile contenders in the Eastern Conference looking to stay on a championship track and prevent these situations from turning toxic. Why wouldn't the 76ers and Nets get on a call and swap stars? It's so simple! It works on theand everything!
OK, so it's slightly more complicated than just matching salaries. Let's break down the cases for and against this hypothetical blockbuster deal.
Why a Kyrie Irving-Ben Simmons trade would work
Irving would immediately eliminate the spacing concerns that have plagued the Simmons-Joel Embiid partnership. Irving had the most efficient season of his career in 2020-21, shooting 50.6 percent from the field, 40.2 percent on 3-pointers and 92.2 percent on free throws. Imagine Irving attacking off the dribble with Embiid rolling to the basket, or Embiid posting up knowing that, if he gets doubled, he can kick out to Irving.
Durant on Irving practicing with Nets: ‘We want him here for the whole thing’
"That's always tough when guys are in and out of the lineup, especially a starter like Kyrie."The city’s decision brings Irving around the team more but keeps him a part-time player.
Plus, Irving would actually be available to play every game for the 76ers. There are no vaccine mandates in the city of Philadelphia nor the state of Pennsylvania, and visiting players are not subject to the same rules in New York City.
Video: Both sides losing in 'America's worst chess game' (NBC Sports)
As for the Nets, they would be able to highlight all of Simmons' strengths and cover up his weaknesses. Brooklyn had thelast season in part because it from beyond the arc as a team. Simmons has already shown that he can thrive whenever there are multiple shooters around him.
The Ben Simmons Paradox
2 career made 3s
782 career assisted 3s
(most in NBA since his debut)— Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry)
What happens when the game gets tight and opposing teams want to foul Simmons as soon as he touches the ball? Just let the offense flow through James Harden and Kevin Durant.
Report: Kyrie Irving upset with vaccine mandates leading to his stance, situation
Irving's logic is hard to follow.Irving may not be happy with that, but he believes he is fighting a bigger fight and speaking up for people often ignored, which is why he has not changed his stance.
More importantly, the Nets would have a member of the All-Defensive First Team capable of handling the toughest assignment each night and taking stress off Durant. Even amid a postseason meltdown against the Hawks, Simmons was still able to.
OK, glad we figured that out. Call the league office and make it official.
Why a Kyrie Irving-Ben Simmons trade wouldn't work
Whoa, not so fast there.
that, while Simmons' camp hasn't "scratched Brooklyn off its list," the 76ers have no interest in Irving at the moment. Philadelphia is still hoping that either Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal will eventually hit the trade block. (A Lillard-Embiid pairing is the dream scenario.)
Additionally, the Sixers would have no guarantees that Irving would stick with the franchise long-term. Irving has two years and roughly $71 million left on his current contract, but he has a player option for the 2022-23 season. He could play out the 2021-22 campaign and then choose another team in free agency. There is also a "belief in some corners of the league" that Irving would seriously consider retirement if the Nets did decide to trade him,. (Irving in an Oct. 13 Instagram Live video.)
Despite the recent get-vaccinated-or-stay-home ultimatum, Brooklyn's front office hasn't given any indication that it wants to break up its "Big Three." Irving and Durant came together as a package deal in the summer of 2019. Though the ultimate decision would lie with owner Joseph Tsai and general manager Sean Marks, Durant may be strongly opposed to any Irving trade.
As fun as the idea of an Irving-Simmons trade sounds in theory, it just doesn't seem realistic — not right now, at least.
Vikings' Kirk Cousins, Nate Stanley expected to return Thursday from COVID-19 list .
Kirk Cousins and backup Nate Stanley are expected to return to practice Thursday. Both were deemed high-risk close contacts when Kellen Mond tested positive for the coronavirus. Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer would not say when Mond, who must miss at least 10 days per the league's protocols, may be back at practice. Vikings cornerback and eight-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson has campaigned for more of his teammates to get their COVID-19 vaccine shots amid reports that only 64.5% of Minnesota players are fully vaccinated.