The season hasn’t opened quite as smoothly as either the Brooklyn Nets or the Philadelphia 76ers have hoped. Brooklyn, playing without Kyrie Irving, was blown out of its opening night tilt with the Milwaukee Bucks before needing a comeback to topple the 76ers Friday. Philadelphia was on the receiving end of that loss and had Ben Simmons played, that might have been an avoidable fate. The two teams share similar hindrances at the moment. Brooklyn is playing without Irving due to his reluctance to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Philadelphia is without Simmons due to an offseason-long trade saga. At this time, he is reportedly not mentally ready to return to the team.
One common solution to both problems that has been suggested has been a swap of the two. It would get Irving to Philadelphia, which has no vaccine mandate for professional athletes, and Simmons to Brooklyn, which satisfies his desire to play for any team aside from the 76ers. While the Nets aren’t actively seeking out Irving trades, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, they are taking calls when other teams reach out to them. Yet Philadelphia is not among those teams, according to Wojnarowski.
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There are any number of reasons why that might not be the case. Philadelphia might genuinely not be interested in Irving. They might be worried that he isn’t interested in playing for them, and rumors that he might retire if traded have circulated throughout the offseason. Even if he doesn’t, Irving can become a free agent this offseason. This might also be a negotiating tactic. The 76ers likely know that Brooklyn will struggle to find a player in return for Irving as talented as Simmons, so they may want to hold out and force the Nets to come to them so they could possibly extract more assets in the deal.
We know that 76ers GM Daryl Morey isn’t in a rush here. He recently said on a radio interview with 97.5 The Fanatic that this standoff with Simmons “could be four years.” He isn’t going to make a trade unless, in his words, it nets him a “difference-maker.” Irving would seemingly qualify, but he’s a risky addition under the best of circumstances. Morey would be justified in hesitating, but if this is a negotiating tactic, it would be a sensible one. Considering all of the concerns adding Irving generates, he’d have to be sure he is getting the absolute best deal possible.
At this stage of the season, neither team is truly desperate to make a move quite yet. Brooklyn and Philadelphia still need to see what they have on the floor before they make any rash decisions on a trade. A Simmons-for-Irving swap makes plenty of sense on paper, but right now, it seems as though it will be quite some time before it even becomes a possibility.