Even though the regular season hasn’t even started, stories and drama have already flooded the NBA world. Most of the action is happening off-court, as the situation with Covid and vaccination has been the main topic of discussion amongst all 30 teams. Over 95% of the league is fully vaccinated, but the spotlight has been on the small portion who are sticking to their beliefs and refusing to get the shot. Wiggins recently caved in, but guys like Jonathan Isaac and Kyrie Irving are still holding on.
Kyrie has primarily been in the spotlight, as the vaccine mandate set for the region of New York will ban Iriving from playing in home games, or to be more specific, miss more than half of the season. Even though the Nets have a stacked roster, losing a player of Kyrie’s magnitude would be a serious hit on their championship aspirations. Sure KD and Harden could pull it off, but having Kyrie to complete their Big 3 again would be a welcomed sight for Nets fans.
From a player’s perspective, Kyrie for sure wants to be able to play in any game he wants and help the Nets build a championship team. Also, from a business side, Irving will lose money for each game he doesn’t play and total a pretty hefty amount by the end of the season if the situation remains the same. Not to mention the Nets won’t be able to build any consistency and chemistry with their team if Kyrie is in and out of the lineup thought the season, especially in the playoffs.
So what’s next? As the situation is stagnating and in place, rumors have started to swirl that the Nets could be looking to move on from Kyrie and find someone who will play night in and night out. Nobody could have imagined a scenario like this when this trio formed, especially considering the friendship between KD and Kyrie. But with Irving’s decision impacting the stability and quality of the team, Sean Marks has to decide in which basket he will put his eggs. Trust Kyrie and hope for a change of scenario or go in another entirely different direction without him?
It is definitely a tough decision, as there is not a big market for Kyrie. If we were talking about Irving from his Cleveland days when he was a charismatic fan favorite, delivering amazing highlights night in and night out with his flashy handle and scoring ability, the market would be buzzing. But over the past few years, Kyrie’s reputation has drastically changed to an injury-prone player known more for his off-court actions, unpredictable behavior, and often confusing statements. Kyrie became more of a spirited artist/philosopher rather than a basketball player, as that has affected his basketball career in the wrong way.
Sure Kyrie showed last season he still got elite skills, capable of being one of the best players in the game, but still with surprising absences. Now his trade value has reached an all-time low with reports recently coming out and revealing that Kyrie could potentially retire if traded from the Brooklyn Nets, as reported by Marc Stein:
“There is a belief in some corners of the league that Kyrie Irving would retire, or at least deeply ponder it, if Brooklyn suddenly traded him.”Marc Stein, The Stein Line
Seeing Kyrie’s recent decisions, this doesn’t seem too unrealistic. Realistically Irving has shown that he can’t be forced into anything, as he does what he wants and focuses on himself even if it means stopping a great NBA career at just 29-years old.
An Irving for Simmons trade seems like a realistic and straightforward trade that would simply trade headaches in hopes of a better fit and fresh start. Imagine adding Simmons’ defensive versatility and playmaking next to KD and Harden or pairing up Kyrie Irving with Embiid. The fit seems perfect on paper, but it is much more complicated than that. Hopefully, both the Nets and the Sixers manage to solve their situations and move on with or without their stars. It will be fun to closely monitor the situation unfold.