Welp, that could be it, folks.
It looks like the Ben Simmons-Brooklyn Nets marriage is already in trouble and needs resuscitation. According to Ian Begley of SNY, the former Rookie of the Year could be on the trade block.
“Ben Simmons’ name came up in the talks, sources say,” Begley reported.
Since bringing in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in 2019, Brooklyn has not done anything right. If the goal is achieving individual milestones, then they’re on track, but not if the goal is winning titles. The signings of Durant and Irving look like one of the biggest NBA mistakes of the past decade. This could be worse than the previous regime trading for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett when they were past their primes.
Owner Joe Tsai must be kicking himself every time Irving opens his mouth or Tweets incoherently, only to play the victim when the backlash comes in waves. Tsai has probably seen his name in headlines more often than he ever thought he would after buying the team.
Of the moves Brooklyn has made (and there have been plenty) since 2019, none have produced the results Tsai paid for. Durant sat out the first year, which was interrupted by the COVID-19 global shutdown, and since he’s returned to the court, all they’ve done is advance to the semifinal round of the NBA Playoffs. That’s the furthest Brooklyn’s gone, and just last season, they were swept out of the first round.
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The Ben Simmons trade in February for the player (James Harden) they’d traded for one year earlier was supposed to rejuvenate this roster and add a wrinkle the team was missing. Well, Simmons finally made his debut as a Net this season, and that wrinkle, whatever it’s supposed to be, is still missing. Not only is that wrinkle missing, but so is Simmons. He played in the team’s first six games to open the season but has been inactive over the last four with a knee injury.
In less than two years, the Nets have had two iterations of a big three, and neither has gotten them close to a championship. Apparently, the last couple of years was the fault of former head coach Steve Nash, who was fired by the team last week. Obviously, it’s Nash’s fault that Kyrie is nothing more than an updated version of the And 1 mixtape tour, and KD couldn’t lead a trail of ants to sugar.
NBA head coaches are usually an easy scapegoat for struggling teams, as it’s always tougher to replace players, especially stars. Nash was in over his head from the jump and certainly should have some blame placed on his shoulders. He wasn’t ready for a high-profile NBA job like Brooklyn’s. The former back-to-back league MVP would’ve been much better served to start in a place like Oklahoma City or Orlando, where there is zero expectation. Instead, Nash was allowed to scurry up the ladder because of relationships with Durant and general manager Sean Marks, ultimately biting off far more than his jaws could chew sufficiently. And the first name we hear as Nash’s replacement is suspended Boston Celtics head coach, Ime Udoka. So, Brooklyn’s answer to fixing a mess is by adding to it.
As much as it would hurt Tsai to admit, it’s time to blow this team up and start over again. Irving is a free agent at the end of the season, and there’s no way Tsai is giving him a new long-term deal. Durant has a few years left on his contract, but if Irving isn’t re-signed, he’s not going to be happy, and he hasn’t shown the ability to lead this franchise effectively, so you might as well grant him his wish and ship him out. The same goes for Simmons, who missed all last season and is already on the injured list again after participating in just six games. The Nets still lack in-depth and frontcourt production, among other areas. The eastern conference is stacked again with little room for error.
Sometimes you’ve got to know when to say when. It’s tap out time for Joe Tsai and the Nets.