The Brooklyn Nets appear to be finally overcoming their extremely rocky start to the 2022-23 season. They have won five of their last seven games, with their latest win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night pushing their record over .500 at 12-11. That currently puts the Nets at eight place in the Eastern Conference, which is lower than they would have liked, but still isn’t bad considering where they were a few weeks ago.
The Nets have turned the corner now that they have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving playing together on a nightly basis. Irving was suspended for eight games for promoting an antisemitic film on his social media accounts, and the Nets struggled to keep things together with him out. Now that he’s back, though, Durant and Irving have been playing some of their best basketball together.
Brooklyn could very well emerge into one of the most dangerous teams in the league over the next couple of months, but it’s beginning to feel like they need to consider trading away this key player as soon as possible. Let’s reveal who that player is and see why trading him would make a lot of sense for the Nets right now.
Nets player who must be traded: Ben Simmons
The Nets pulled off a huge blockbuster deal with the Philadelphia 76ers last season centered around Ben Simmons and James Harden. Harden didn’t want to play for the Nets anymore, and Simmons had wanted off of the Sixers for quite some time. It made sense to see if a change of scenery would benefit both players.
Early on this year, though, Simmons has looked nothing like the player he was prior to his season-long layoff with Philly and Brooklyn last year. Simmons has struggled to integrate himself into the Nets offense for long stretches of the action, and has also continued to deal with injuries along the way as well.
Simmons’ stats early on this season (8.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 5.8 APG, 61.4 FG%) have left a lot to be desired for the Nets and their fans. Simmons is hitting a lot of his shots, but he isn’t even taking six shots per game at this point. He’s been solid on defense, but the Nets were counting on Simmons to help lighten the load for Durant and Irving on offense; so far, he’s done the exact opposite of that.
These numbers from Simmons would be good if they were from a bench player playing 20-25 minutes a game, but Simmons is expected to be a star on this team who will play around 30 minutes a game. There are some who will be OK with Simmons’ outings, but there’s really no reason to accept these performances anymore.
Brooklyn has reportedly been shopping around Simmons already, and while those rumors have largely cooled off now that the Nets are winning, what’s the point of holding onto him if he isn’t making an impact on the court? Simmons has been better lately, but he scored a total of two points over the last two contests he played, while also picking up a calf injury that will hold him out a few games in the process.
The Nets need reliable players on their roster to support Durant and Irving, and badly. Simmons has proven that he is not the right guy for them if that’s what they are looking for. With Irving’s antics both on and off the court, there’s no telling what the future has in store for this team, which is why having reliable players is a must, and Simmons simply hasn’t been reliable at all.
The problem with potentially moving Simmons is that they likely wouldn’t get much in return for him, which would be a massive disappointment given he’s only just started to play for the Nets. Simmons hasn’t exactly wowed anyone in his return to the court, which means his trade value, which was already pretty low, is probably at rock bottom right now.
It would be interesting to see what Brooklyn would accept back in an offer for Simmons, because trading him for a pair of bench pieces doesn’t even sound like a horrible deal at this point. Again, the urgency to get a deal done isn’t what it once was, but if the Nets start losing again, changes will have to be made.
The Nets were on the verge of falling apart earlier this season, and while things have largely been turned around for now, there’s no telling how long they will hold up. Trading Simmons would protect Brooklyn if things fall apart, as they could maybe pick up some players they could at least rely on a bit more. For that reason, pulling the trigger on a Simmons deal makes a lot of sense right now.