This coming offseason could bring significant changes to the Brooklyn Nets roster.
“The Nets would be wise trying to package [Ben] Simmons in a blockbuster deal, as his sizable salary would be much easier to stomach if packaged with multiple draft picks and prospects,” argues Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report. “Portland, a team lacking obvious direction at the moment, would exit this swap with a readymade rebuilding kit in hand.”
- Patty Mills
- Royce O’Neale
- Day’Ron Sharpe
- Ben Simmons
- Cam Thomas
- 2025 1st Rd Pick (via PHX)
- 2027 1st Rd Pick (via PHX)
- 2029 1st Rd Pick
“Simmons looks like someone in need of a total reset,” writes Buckley. The same could be said of the Portland Trail Blazers, who are ostensibly trying to win big with 32-year-old Damian Lillard but just tanked their way to a second consecutive lottery appearance.
“Maybe Simmons and the Blazers are right for each other.”
Lillard, a noted fan of Nets swingman Mikal Bridges, has ramped up the pressure on the Blazers’ front office to figure out a direction, suggesting that he may have to make a tough decision if they fail to do so.
The seven-time All-Star averaged a career-best 32.2 points while knocking down 37.1% of his threes adding 7.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and nearly 1.0 steals per game. He has also dealt with injuries in each of the last two seasons and is owed more than $216 million over the next four years taking him through his age-36 season.
Nurkic could be intriguing at 6-foot-11 and listed at a bulky 290-pounds.
Not only would Nurkic provide some much-needed size – current starter Nic Claxton is listed at just 215 pounds, but he also provided a more diverse offensive skill set.
The 28-year-old pivot averaged 13.3 points, 9.1 boards, and 2.9 assists. He also fell just short of averaging 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals but did expand his range knocking down 36.1% of a career-high 2.3 triples per game.
Nurkic is going into the third year of a four-year, $70 million pact.
The Nets Wouldn’t Be Giving Up Much
Of the non-Simmons pieces that Brooklyn is giving up, only Thomas, 22, would figure to be in their long-term plans otherwise but he’s had a tough time earning minutes under head coach Jacque Vaughn who has publicly called for more than scoring from the former 27th-overall pick. Thomas, for his part, has said little in the way of making waves about his lack of playing time.
“That’s not in my control,” he said after the regular season finale via NBA.com. “That’s [the coaching staff’s] decision. So I don’t know.”
O’Neale, 29, has been a useful piece. But he was brought in for a previous iteration of the Nets and, while he could be of use as a defender to a team with Lillard, parting with an aging role player going into the final year of his contract.
Mills, 33, made 40 appearances including two starts this season but his greatest value at this point of his career is as a trade chip thanks to his $6.8 million cap hit in 2023-24.
Sharpe, 21, is in a similar boat as Thomas – not quite ready to contribute in the postseason.
Nets Get Positive Update on Ben Simmons
Simmons, 26, has not played since before the All-Star break and ended a disappointing first season in Brooklyn with just 42 appearances after sitting out all of last season.
Even when he was active this past season, he did not look anything like his former All-Star self. The 6-foot-10 playmaker averaged 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists while still showing the same reluctance to attack on offense. He was finally shut down on March 28 after experiencing inflammation in his back.
Simmons is less than one year removed from having a microdiscectomy performed on his back, a procedure which can take up to 18 months to fully recover from, to which Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. has attested.
The good news is that there does not appear to be any need for another procedure at this time, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post citing sources with knowledge of the situation.
To Simmons’ credit, he tried to give it a go after just under five months of recovery, potentially leading to some of the medical issues he experienced this season. But his performance still left a lot to be desired and, with over $78 million owed to him over the next two seasons, trying to move his deal is not the worst idea.