EXCLUSIVE: Nets Could Land Coveted All-Star in Blockbuster Trade, Says Exec

Jimmy Butler, right, Miami Heat

Getty Jimmy Butler, right, Miami Heat

A back injury prevented Ben Simmons from making his Brooklyn Nets debut in 2022 and ultimately required him to have surgery. Simmons has not played an NBA game since the Atlanta Hawks eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in June 2021. That is more than a full year of a layoff from high-level basketball.

 If Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant return to the team next season, the Nets expect to compete for a title. To do that, they will need players who are ready to contribute immediately. And with Simmons having such an extended hiatus, he just may not fit the description for that. One Eastern Conference executive told Heavy’s Sean Deveney that the New Orleans Pelicans previously had an interest in the All-Star forward.

“The Pelicans talked about Simmons before, too, and it might make more sense now with C.J. McCollum there, to put a big defender in the backcourt with him. That could be a straight swap, Simmons for Brandon Ingram,” The executive said to Deveney. 

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Executive: Simmons for Ingram Swap ‘Makes Sense’

The executive also tells Deveney that the Pelicans were initially reluctant to pull the trigger on a trade that sent Simmons to New Orleans because they did not want to include Ingram in the deal. 

But with Zion Williamson cleared to return next season in addition to McCollum, they may have a change of heart about parting ways with Ingram because now it makes ‘more sense’.

“The Pelicans were not going to do that last year, they did not want to include Ingram, so they might not want to do it now,” the executive said to Deveney. “But if Zion is healthy and with C.J. there, just in terms of how that team is built, it actually makes a lot more sense now.”

Pelican Declined Nets Trade Offer for Durant

The Nets are still trying to see how their roster will look when they open training camp in the fall. Irving and Durant are both disgruntled with the franchise and could be looking to hatch an escape plan. 

As it pertains to Durant, his value may not be as high as previously assumed. Entering his mid-thirties, coming off a near career-ending Achilles injury in 2019, and suffering long-term injuries in back-to-back seasons with the Nets, all have put his availability under a microscope for teams interested in his services.

In an interview with George Wrightster on Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio on July 12, Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of “Bally Sports” , said those factors have made rival teams question how much they should surrender in a potential blockbuster deal for the Nets star.  

“There’s a lot of teams that feel like Kevin is of a certain age that they don’t deserve certain looks,” Robinson said.

The insider also notes that the Nets’ gargantuan offer for Durant essentially ended talks with the New Orleans Pelicans for a potential blockbuster deal.

“The Pelicans don’t want to give up Brandon Ingram. And the Nets wanted Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr along with some of the six picks that the Pelicans have from trades with the Lakers and the Bucks.”

On paper, at least, the Nets have a formidable enough squad to make some noise in the Eastern Conference. It will be interesting to see how far they can go if they run it back. 

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