Irving & Simmons Set to Lose Money in the Millions

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Updated: October 7, 2021
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With the Wiggins’ recent vaccination in Golden State, Kyrie Irving is the last max-contract player remaining on the sidelines. It wouldn’t be such a concern if he wasn’t a part of the 3 franchises who have strict CV-19 restrictions in their cities, but since the Nets reside in New York, if Irving does not opt to take the required vaccination, he will not be able to practice with the team in Brooklyn or play in any of their home games. As of today, the Nets front office and coaching staff have stayed in the gray without revealing his status, however, it will come to fruition soon enough with the season right around the corner. WOJ has recently reported, that the team feels they are a contender with or without Irving which one would assume would make him being dealt in a trade more likely than the previous stance that had Durant vetoing a Kyrie trade.

With the Simmons situation that we are all too familiar with at this point, 8.25 million that was owed to him last week has been set aside to be the retainer for all his missed game fines. If these players stick to their guns, they would lose out on the majority of their annual salaries this year. But there is a move that everyone can see that would fix the problem for all 4 parties involved…and that would be swap sending Irving to Philadelphia and big Ben to Brooklyn. Especially since Philly does not have a clear-cut point guard and Brooklyn currently has 3 of them in Harden, Irving, and Mills, it arguably is a match made in heaven.

The biggest problem though is, it is impossible at this moment to objectively identify which asset is more tainted at this moment and to which side should add additional capital in the exchange. On one side we have the Simmons implosion in the playoffs, his inability to shoot, a no-show at training camp, public trade demands, and the threat of sitting out the season. In Irving, we have the CV-19 situation and missing home games, a half dozen surgeries, games missed last season due to “personal reasons,” and an overall disinterest in the game basketball. Irving’s camp has also been rumored to have said that if Ky was sent elsewhere, he would simply retire.

…so again, how do we assess these trade pieces and their value? It’s quite ironic because it was not long ago these players were blue-chip assets that could have collected a treasure chest ransom if placed on the trade block. Today is a different day though, and if either side called up and offered a straight swap Irving for Simmons, there’s a possibility both sides would be apprehensive about taking on these problems. If we are speaking solely from on-court production, it wouldn’t be out of pocket for Brooklyn to ask for additional picks or the inclusion of guard Tyrese Maxey with how good Kyrie looked before the rolled ankle and how bad Simmons performed.

However, we are hardly operating inside of a vacuum. Irving only has two years left on his contract in comparison to the 4 on Ben’s. Even if Kyrie pinky promised he would extend with Sixers we’ve seen what his word is worth with his public proclamations for Celtic love in Boston Garden. But getting 2 good years out of Irving would be a dream if Philly acquired him considering the variables of injury, personal whatever’s, and the worst-case scenario, him simply deciding to retire.

From this side of the ball, one could justify Morey asking for an additional player or pick in the exchange considering at the very least Simmons is healthy, under contract, and wants to play. Considering how many weapons Brooklyn is carrying even excluding Irving, Simmons as a small-ball 5, or even just the primary ball-handler in the 2nd unit would be devastating. Arguably, it would make them scarier than they are with the 3-headed monster they currently have. Considering the overkill of guard talent in Harden, Irving, and Patty Mills, in comparison to the defensive influx Ben would bring to the rotation, if one hadn’t picked the Nets as their title favorite before, it would be hard not to pick them if Simmons was added. The biggest reason for this being, they have so much depth, one could argue they don’t need him in the last 8 minutes of a game and could use him as a workhorse through the first 3 quarters.

All that said, Brooklyn, has zero picks to exchange, and most of their recent vet minimum contracts not only can’t be traded for a while since they just signed in free agency but most likely there were unspoken no-traded clauses considering they could’ve made more elsewhere. If they were willing to include Nicolas Claxton and send him with Kyrie to Philly, presumably the deal would go through. The only big problem with that is Brooklyn already lacks size at the center position and would have to fully embrace small lineups by sending away their only true 5.

As much as we’d like to see this exchange and watch Embiid with a hall of fame point guard and Simmons operating with 5 out spacing in New York, there is just so many unknowns for both sides. The hope is that the pressure of the upcoming season and both franchises forced to welcome their fans on opening day without one of their All-Stars will be the incentive that forces a transaction sooner than later. But like all the Simmons articles thus far across the league, we end with, we’ll have to wait and see…

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