We’ve got two problematic superstars currently playing about 100 miles from each other, Ben Simmons in Philadelphia and Kyrie Irving over in Brooklyn. We know that Simmons has his issues with his organization and likely won’t ever play in Philly again. And we know that Irving, because he has not received a Covid-19 vaccine, is ineligible to play in home games as long as an indoor restriction on the unvaccinated remains in place in New York City.
The idea has been bandied about the NBA as a result of those two realities: Why not swap the pair? Send Irving to Philly, where he could play in home games, and send Simmons to Brooklyn where he would be an excellent complement to James Harden and Kevin Durant, a defensive stalwart who does not need to score.
But don’t let your imagination run too far with the idea. According to Hall of Fame NBA reporter Marc Stein, there’s been no such conversations. Wrote Stein:
There is no indication the Philadelphia 76ers have interest in exploring a potential Ben Simmons for Kyrie Irving trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Irving is currently not allowed to play home games for the Nets due to his vaccination status. There is some belief around the league that Irving would retire, or at least seriously consider it, if the Nets traded him. Irving can also be a free agent in 2022. The 76ers continue to explore a trade of Simmons while he remains away from the team.
Simmons Ready for a Transaction–on the Real Estate Market
It has been a discouraging stalemate between Simmons and the Sixers to this point. The team decided last week that it would withhold any payment to Simmons until he reports to camp, as he was owed $8.25 million on October first per the terms of his contract. But rather than fine Simmons and take it out of his contract, the Sixers are instead simply refusing to pay him.
Simmons appeared to up his seriousness about leaving Philly this week when, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, he listed his downtown Ritz-Carlton condo for sale, having emptied the place.
According to Pompey, the estranged Sixer bought a place in Southern California this summer, and it has been reported that he would like to be traded to one of the California teams.Wrote Pompey:
This summer, the three-time All-Star purchased a new all-black farmhouse in Southern California for $17.5 million. It’s 12,000 square feet on 1.5 acres and includes two motor courts, a pool, spa, wood deck, patio, and cabana. There’s also a guesthouse that comes with a pool of its own.
Kyrie Irving-Simmons-Damian Lillard Swap?
Irving, meanwhile, remains mired in controversy over his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19. He was reported to have missed out on $380,000 for having to miss the Nets’ preseason home game because of New York City’s restrictions on major indoor events, which require participants to have gotten a vaccine.
The issue has become a flashpoint between the NBA and the league’s union, of which Irving is a vice president. The league has held fast to its intention to fine players who miss games for vaccination reasons, while the union has pushed back against any vaccine mandate.
As far as a trade is concerned, Stein mentioned that Irving could retire rather than be sent out of Brooklyn, where he signed as a free agent after leaving the Celtics in 2019.
Another possibility being mentioned in NBA circles is a three-way trade involving another supposedly disgruntled star, Damian Lillard, who has been a fixation of Morey throughout the Simmons process.
The Athletic insiders Sam Amick and John Hollinger suggested a three-way deal that would send Lillard to Philadelphia, Simmons to Brooklyn and Irving to Portland (or retirement, as the case may be.)
Again, don’t hold your breath. Irving still wants to play with Nets star Kevin Durant. And there’s no indication Lillard still wants out. “That deal isn’t happening for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that Lillard — for now — has backed off quite a bit when it comes to his desire to be elsewhere,” Amick wrote.