The 76ers and the Nets faced off in just the second game of the season for both teams, and though it was an exciting matchup that saw a complete Philadelphia collapse and a late Brooklyn comeback, it was missing something. Actually, it was missing two somethings.
It was missing the physical presences of both Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving, though their respective situations hung above their respective teams with similar levels of weightiness as to just how significant their absences are. Simmons says he isn't "mentally ready" to play with the 76ers right now, though we're not sure if that means he eventually wants to come back or if he still wants out as soon as possible. Irving has not gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 and it doesn't seem like he plans on doing so at this point, making it so that he can't play at any Nets home games and forcing the Nets to decide that he can't join the team at all if he will only make himself available on a part-time basis.
One solution that might help both sides? A trade that would swap the two polarizing stars straight-up. One for one. Simmons for Irving. A $35.4 million average salary for a $34.1 million average salary. A green "This Trade is Successful!" message on ESPN's NBA Trade Machine. And, most importantly, the approval of NBA legend and outspoken commentator Charles Barkley.
"Yes, I would do that deal right away," Barkley told Compare.bet. "I think it would benefit both teams."
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Brooklyn has taken calls from other teams on Irving, indicating that he is available. One of the teams that Woj said has not called the Nets are the 76ers, interestingly enough, so this seems like a speculative rumor as opposed to any sort of actual trade discussion at this point in time.
Irving would be exempt from vaccine requirements as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, meaning he could play in New York and California — specifically Los Angeles and San Francisco — as a visiting player, as they do not need to comply to the same requirements as employees of the organizations that call those cities home. His fit alongside Embiid, Tobias Harris and company would be an obvious improvement to the current roster construction and would thrust the 76ers to — or very close to — the top of the Eastern Conference ladder.
Simmons' vaccination status is unknown, though there was some speculation that he was not vaccinated based on his timeline to return to the court. His fit in Brooklyn wouldn't be as clear given the ball-dominant natures of both James Harden and Kevin Durant, though he may be able to modify his role into more of a Draymond Green-esque mold and give the Nets a big-time boost on the defensive side of the ball.
One player who Simmons would join in Brooklyn is James Harden, who resorted to similar tactics as Simmons when he wanted out of Houston. His situation was a little bit different, though, seeing as he was the clear centerpiece of the franchise while Simmons is 1B — or, in my opinion, on a different tier altogether — than the 1A that is Joel Embiid. In either case, though, Barkley doesn't think this trend is the best for the NBA going forward.
"James Harden took the money and said f— you and gave Houston the middle finger," Barkley said. "Now you got Ben Simmons who they owe $150 million, and he said, f— you, I’m not playing there.
"It’s screwed up. Going forward, you’re going to have to give a guy $150 million or $200 million and if he’s ever unhappy, you’re at his mercy. I don’t think that’s good for our league."