With less than a week to go into the 2021-22 regular season, the NBA conversation is dominated by two players who, well, might not actually be playing.
Ben Simmons unexpectedly arrived at Wells Fargo Center on Monday night, ending a wait that had cost him nearly a million dollars. The three-time All-Star passed his physical exam and had a brief meeting with 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, but it’s unclear. he plans to keep pushing for a trade or really join the team.
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Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, the Nets finally made a firm decision on Kyrie Irving, announcing on Tuesday that the All-NBA goalie would not train or play with the team until he is “eligible to be. a full participant “. Under New York City’s current COVID-19 guidelines, unvaccinated Knicks and Nets players are not permitted to enter their arenas for matches. Irving does not comply with local protocols, leaving Brooklyn to wonder when (or if) his status will change.
So there are two top contenders in the Eastern Conference looking to stay on a championship track and prevent these situations from becoming toxic. Why wouldn’t the 76ers and Nets make a call and trade stars? It is that simple! It works on the ESPN commercial machine and everything!
OK, so it’s a little more complicated than just matching the salaries. Let’s break down the arguments for and against this hypothetical successful deal.
Why a Kyrie Irving Simmons-Ben Business Would Work
Irving would immediately eliminate the spacing issues that plagued the Simmons-Joel Embiid partnership. Irving had the most efficient season of his career in 2020-21, shooting 50.6% from the field, 40.2% from 3 points and 92.2% from free throws. Imagine Irving attacking the dribble with Embiid rolling towards the basket, or Embiid posting knowing that if he is passed he can tack to Irving.
Plus, Irving would actually be available to play any 76ers games. There is no mandate for vaccination in the city of Philadelphia or the state of Pennsylvania, and visiting players are not subject to the same rules in New York.
As for the Nets, they could highlight all of Simmons’ strengths and cover up his weaknesses. Brooklyn had the best offensive rating in the NBA last season in part because he shot nearly 40% beyond the arc as a team. Simmons has already shown that he can thrive whenever there are multiple shooters around him.
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 go through James Harden and Kevin Durant.
More importantly, the Nets would have a member of the defensive first team who can handle the most difficult task every night and take the burden off Durant. Even in the midst of a playoff meltdown against the Hawks, Simmons could still get Trae Young in trouble.
OK, glad we thought about that. Call the league office and make it official.
Why a Kyrie Irving Simmons-Ben trade wouldn’t work
Whoa, not so fast over there.
Athletic’s Sam Amick reported Tuesday that while Simmons’ camp has not “struck Brooklyn off their roster,” the 76ers have no interest in Irving at this time. Philadelphia is still hoping that Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal will eventually hit the trading block. (A Lillard-Embiid couple is the dream scenario.)
Moreover, the Sixers would have no guarantees that Irving would stick to the franchise in the long run. Irving is still two years old and around $ 71 million on his current contract, but he has a player option for the 2022-23 season. He could play the 2021-22 campaign and then pick another team in free agency. There is also a “belief in some corners of the league” that Irving would seriously consider retiring if the Nets decide to trade him, according to Marc Stein.
Despite the recent ultimatum to get the shot or stay home, the Brooklyn front office has given no indication that it wants to break its “big three.” Irving and Durant came together in a comprehensive deal in the summer of 2019. While the final decision rests with owner Joseph Tsai and general manager Sean Marks, Durant can be strongly opposed to any Irving trading.
As fun as the idea of an Irving-Simmons swap might sound in theory, it just doesn’t seem realistic – not right now, at least.