The Brooklyn Nets might have sent Kyrie Irving to the Philadelphia 76ers in a blockbuster trade for Ben Simmons, but Kevin Durant reportedly wouldn't let that happen, according to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
"Kyrie could have ended up in Philly," Smith said Wednesday on First Take. "[Nets general manager] Sean Marks couldn't do that cuz KD wasn't having it. ... I assure you, if it were not for Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets would be interested in making that deal."
Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers confirmed on First Take that Simmons asked to be traded:
Rivers also said the team wants Simmons back.
A Simmons-Irving swap would make sense from a basketball perspective, even between Eastern Conference contenders.
The 76ers need more perimeter scoring to take pressure off Joel Embiid while freeing up space inside. Irving averaged 26.9 points per game last season, shooting 40.2 percent from three-point range, and he is one of the best shot-creators in the sport.
The seven-time All-Star would give the 76ers a feared inside-outside tandem that represents a much better fit than Embiid and Simmons.
The Nets, meanwhile, already have two other elite scorers in Durant and James Harden. Simmons would provide much-needed help on the other end of the court considering he has earned first-team All-Defensive honors in each of the last two seasons. The move could help the three-time All-Star to thrive as a do-it-all glue piece instead of to be used as a go-to scoring option.
Though a deal would perhaps make both teams better, Irving would retire if he were traded, according to Nick Wright of Fox Sports.
It seems Durant also doesn't want to lose the point guard after the two joined the team together in 2019.
Injuries prevented Brooklyn from meeting expectations last season, but the players seemingly believe they already have what it takes to win a title.