The Brooklyn Nets are reportedly taking a cautious approach when it comes to including point guard Ben Simmons in trade talks.
According to ESPN's Zach Lowe, the Nets are "wary of selling low" on Simmons since his trade value is greatly diminished after he missed all of last season due to mental health issues and a back injury. Brooklyn acquired him from Philadelphia 76ers ahead of the trade deadline in the James Harden blockbuster deal.
Superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are rumored to be available in trade conversations, but the Nets have yet to find a deal to their liking for either player.
Durant's business manager, Rich Kleiman, informed ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski (h/t ESPN's Tim Bontemps) last month that KD had requested a trade out of Brooklyn.
Wojnarowski also reported at the time that the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns were "among the teams Durant has on his wish list for a potential trade."
Wojnarowski reported in late June that Irving had given the Nets a list of teams that he wanted them to work out a sign-and-trade with if they couldn't agree to terms on his return to Brooklyn. However, he wound up picking up his $36.5 million player option for the 2022-23 season instead.
Wojnarowski reported that the Los Angeles Lakers were the only team on Irving's list believed to have mutual interest in him. But since they have little of value to offer and the Nets would likely have to take on Russell Westbrook's expiring contract, the two sides haven't been able to reach a deal.
Appearing last week on Get Up (h/t RealGM), ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that the Nets' preference now is to keep Durant since the trade offers they have received thus far haven't approached their asking price.
Lowe speculated that the Nets are asking for center Bam Adebayo, guard Tyler Herro and draft picks from the Heat in a trade for Durant, leaving Miami understandably hesitant.
The Nets could perhaps sweeten the pot by adding another piece with Durant, but Lowe noted that the Nets likely don't want to include Simmons as a throw-in.
Although his trade value is low, Simmons is an effective and quality player when he is healthy due to his defense and playmaking ability. The 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick just turned 26, and he's been a three-time All-Star in his four healthy seasons. He also finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2020-21.
However, Simmons' playoff failures are hard to ignore. He averaged only 9.9 points per game and shot 33.3 percent from the free-throw line during the top-seeded Sixers' upset loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Simmons is a middling 59.7 percent career free-throw shooter and has hit only five three-pointers in the NBA, but he boasts career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals. He also runs the point at 6'11", which is essentially unheard of.
Simmons could be a huge part of the Nets' success moving forward, with or without Durant and Irving. The organization is seemingly unwilling to view him as a throw-in as it discusses other trade scenarios.