A lot has been said about Ben Simmons this off-season. Between the new mansion and the new girlfriend, the three-time NBA All-Star reportedly hasn’t found the time to respond to anyone at the Philadelphia 76ers in over a month now. The 25-year-old has been linked with an absurd number of NBA teams in the past, with the Sixers keen to explore every single one. One of said options apparently involved Ben Simmons in a 1-for-1 trade with Kyrie Irving that would land him with the Brooklyn Nets. But Kevin Durant was having none of that.
After a disappointing end to last season, it seemed to be mutually agreed that Simmons’ future in the NBA would be with another team. Denver, Cleveland, Minnesota, Golden State, Toronto, Houston, Washington, Sacramento, Portland, and San Antonio are among the list of teams being reported to have entertained the possibility of trading for Simmons. One report suggested that Ben Simmons would only accept a trade to a team based in California and that it was not his job to increase his trade value to aid the Sixers in moving his massive contract.
Parallel to this, there were rumblings of the Nets looking to offload Kyrie Irving. After Irving missed seven back-to-back games mid-season without offering any explanation to his team, Nets General Manager Sean Marks might have been looking to make a switch-up in the team’s starting lineup. According to analyst Stephen A. Smith, Kevin Durant was personally responsible for vetoing any trades that involved Kyrie. KD, in a rare moment of loyalty, stuck by the close friend with whom he originally formed this team.
If this is all true, it seems like a massive missed opportunity for everyone involved. For Simmons, being on a team with the likes of Durant, Harden, and Joe Harris would help disguise his crippling aversion to the three-point line; for the Nets, Simmons would add the elite defence missing from the current team as well as be able to distribute the ball within their fast-paced “small ball” style of play; and for the Sixers, they would be adding a championship-calibre point guard who would be the perfect counterpart to Joel Embiid.
Another report indicates Kyrie Irving’s representation was telling other teams that he would retire from the league entirely if he was ever to be traded from the Nets. The Brooklyn Nets, when fully healthy, are still the prohibitive favourite to become NBA Champions this season, so perhaps Durant was correct to err on the side of caution with a possible Ben Simmons move.