The Brooklyn Nets are still projected to hoist a Larry O’Brien trophy, but who will they have to beat in the Eastern Conference to get there? A few tough opponents, but nobody they can’t handle.
The concern lies with opposing teams upgrading via free agency, trades or the draft or re-tooling their rosters to better maximize the talent from their top personnel. The Miami Heat were able to make some major pickups and the Milwaukee Bucks are the defending Champions at the moment.
But what about the Philadelphia 76ers?
Once thought of as the top team in the Eastern Conference, they’re now mired in trade rumors surrounding Ben Simmons and young stud Tyrese Maxey.
With the Simmons trade rumors taking the cake in terms of drama in the Eastern Conference, how could a potential deal affect the league’s hierarchy?
How will the impending 76ers shakeup affect the Nets?
Not only does agent Rich Paul want Simmons out of Philly, but he wants his other client and fellow Sixer out as well. The projected landing spots for Simmons are far and few between, but could the addition of Maxey in a package coax other teams to surrender the assets Philly is looking for?
Paul isn’t playing around, either. If what’s happened recently is any indication, we could see a major roster facelift for the 76ers, and it’s not likely they’ll improve because teams aren’t going to want to part with established NBA talent since it’s likely only contending teams would want to make such a deal (or those very close to contention).
Nonetheless, it depends on who Philadelphia can land in return for Maxey and Simmons. If they’re speaking with top contenders, they’re probably only going to get draft picks and depth-level talent, which will set them back for a season, because without an All-NBA defender like Simmons in town, they’re going to take a major step back.
As for the remaining conference members, including Brooklyn, there may be some slight finagling, but not much. The Sixers’ moves will have an impact, but there’s still a very seasoned Heat squad, an up-and-coming Atlanta Hawks team, an eager Toronto Raptors side, and a boastful Bucks waiting to take the bragging rights.
Expect to see Brooklyn on cruise control for the duration of the season with Philly likely getting weaker, narrowing the competition for them as they surge toward a Finals berth. The Nets are healthier and more committed now more than ever, and a weakened group of opponents is only going to help their cause … since it’s unlikely Philly trades Simmons and Maxey within the conference unless they get an offer they can’t refuse.