The Nets have had their Big Three reduced to a Big Two thanks to a New York mandate that requires professional players to be vaccinated in order to play indoors – and Kyrie Irving’s unwillingness to comply with that mandate.
Cue an avalanche of trade speculation and rumors surrounding the seven-time All-Star whom the Nets are planning to move forward without.
The most hyped-up trade scenario involves Brooklyn moving Irving for Sixers star Ben Simmons, who has had a tumultuous relationship with his squad too. But according to a recent report from The Athletic’s Sam Amick, “While an Irving trade for Ben Simmons with Philadelphia is seen by some as an easy solution to both teams’ problems, sources with knowledge of the 76ers’ view said there is no interest in Irving at the moment.”
NBA columnist Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report took that as a prompt not to squash the Irving-Simmons trade talks, but as a chance to get creative.
In a recent article for Bleacher Report, Hughes introduced the Miami Heat into the equation and arrived at the following three-way blockbuster:
Brooklyn Nets Receive: Ben Simmons, Victor Oladipo
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Kyle Lowry, Cam Thomas, 2025 first-round pick (via MIA), 2027 first-round pick (via MIA)
Miami Heat Receive: Kyrie Irving, 2023 second-round pick (via PHI)
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Making Sense of Simmons, Oladipo to Brooklyn
With Kevin Durant and James Harden as their one-two punch, the Nets don’t necessarily need a player with Irving’s scoring prowess as a direct replacement.
Simmons, a three-time All-Star who is excellent in all phases of the game except shooting, could be the perfect complement to what Brooklyn already has on its roster.
Hughes elaborates more in his piece for Bleacher Report:
Simmons might have his flaws, but he’s better than a guy who’s not going to play at all. And for a Nets team that happily slots Blake Griffin at center in big moments, Simmons shouldn’t have an issue manning the 5 and playing to his strengths. His shooting limitations could pose playoff problems (Griffin is a much more threatening and willing three-point gunner), but again: Irving currently can’t play at all. In a very real sense, this is a something-for-nothing exchange from Brooklyn’s perspective.
And when “something” is a three-time All-Star whose five-position switchability directly addresses the Nets’ suspect defense, that’s a quality move. Victor Oladipo, recovering from quad surgery, is a throw-in to help the hard-capped Heat trim enough salary to make this move legal.
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Simmons Back With Sixers
Meanwhile, the Simmons saga in Philadelphia has appeared to take a few encouraging steps forward for the 76ers.
The 25-year-old practiced Sunday and faced his teammates for the first time since his trade demand, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN). But, as the AP reported, his status for the season opener is still unknown.
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