Ben Simmons for Kyrie Irving.
The 76ers and Nets swapping problems. The salaries match up, this could be a straight player-for-player trade, with no third teams or picks needed. Neat and clean.
It’s also nowhere close to happening. Marc Stein explained in his must-read latest newsletter why this makes very little sense for Philadelphia.
There is no indication — yet — that the 76ers have an interest in exploring the Simmons-for-Kyrie Irving trade being thrown around as the natural “solution” for two Atlantic Division teams facing major headaches to start the season. Reason being: It is not at all the obvious solution it would appear to be on paper. There is a belief in some corners of the league that Irving would retire, or at least deeply ponder it, if Brooklyn suddenly traded him. The 29-year-old is also a challenge to manage in the best of times and can become a free agent as soon as next summer if he declines his lucrative player option for the 2022-23 season. Forget how tantalizing it is to imagine Brooklyn adding Simmons’ playmaking and defense. Does any of this sound like a palatable solution for Philly?
Irving’s camp has suggested he would retire if he is traded anywhere, not just Philly.
There is a reason Brooklyn would back away from this deal, too: Kevin Durant. While you can make a strong case that Simmons is a better fit with the Nets because of his perimeter defense and he wouldn’t have to score the same way (at least while Durant and James Harden are healthy), it ignores the fact Durant and Irving came to the Nets as a package deal. KD and Irving are close and there is zero indication that changed. Do the bend-over-backward-for-players Nets suddenly want to risk pissing off their best player?
The reality is the closest the 76ers are to a trade is with Minnesota in a D'Angelo Russell-based deal (which would need a third team) or a trade with the Pacers based around Malcolm Brogdon and/or Caris LeVert and other players. If Philly wanted to pull the trigger on either of those, the trade would already be made.
Sources have told NBC Sports to expect this to drag out. Harden was traded to Brooklyn a month into the season last year, and that may be the timeline for Simmons — and Harden at least showed up to training camp and played in games. Simmons is still holding out and taking the financial hit for it.
Both sides have dug in, both sides are handling the pressure, and until something changes the calculus for one side or both, there is no deal to be made. Get your popcorn and make yourself comfortable. This is going to last a while.