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Do Nets have it better with Kyrie Irving than 76ers do with Ben Simmons?

May 6, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts during the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts during the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

We’ve heard about it all season. The Brooklyn Nets are without their star point guard Kyrie Irving. If Irving decides to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, he’d be allowed to rejoin the team. Until then, the Nets will continue to be without one of their key scorers from last season.

Brooklyn isn’t the only team in the Eastern Conference without one of its top players, though. Ben Simmons has yet to play a game for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2021-2022.

Which saga is worse? Can we even compare them like this? It’s tough. Irving could clear the air by getting vaccinated, but Simmons’ situation is far different. He went from saying that he’d never play for the team again, to selling his property in the city, to sneaking back into Philadelphia, getting kicked out of practice … and is now working to improve his mental health.

The No. 1 draft pick from 2016 has made a point to burn all of his bridges within the organization before he’s even left the team. Irving is holding out over a vaccine, and while Brooklyn did make the executive decision that he couldn’t be a part-time player, he hasn’t stirred up drama pertaining to his teammates or coaches.

Simmons’ teammates wanted to fly out to Los Angeles to speak with him shortly before the season began, but he made it clear that he wouldn’t meet with them. Not to mention, he said that playing with fellow All-Star Joel Embiid wasn’t conducive to his playing style. Meanwhile, Irving has said some questionable things on Instagram Live about the vaccine, but he hasn’t publicly spoken out against anyone in the Nets organization. Yet, both teams are in similar scenarios.

Maybe Brooklyn and Philadelphia could change the narrative altogether and make a trade with one another? Irving for Simmons? Not gonna happen. But it’s fun to think about.

The Brooklyn Nets have it better with Irving than Philly does with Simmons.

Simmons and the 76ers are going at each other’s throats at this point. Philadelphia is fining him for not joining the team on their six-game road trip to the West Coast. The first game took place last Saturday in Indiana against the Pacers and it will end on Nov. 24 in the Bay Area against the Warriors. If Simmons misses all six games, which is what is going to most likely happen, he’ll have to pay a total of $2.16 million in fines.

The Simmons-Sixers chronicle is getting uglier by the day. If he’s brought back prematurely, do you think that will help his mental state? Why do you think he said he never wanted to play for this team again? If he doesn’t want to be part of the team, what’s the use in forcing him to play?

Irving, on the other hand, hasn’t cultivated a toxic relationship with the Nets. In fact, his teammates have supported him, one way or another. On Tuesday, Steve Nash said that he still keeps in touch with Irving, but that the two don’t talk about basketball. It’s clear that Brooklyn isn’t as good of a team without the guy who averaged 26.9 points last season, but Irving is seemingly maintaining his stance that he reportedly wants to be a “voice for the voiceless.”

When you compare that to the numerous storylines surrounding Simmons and Philadelphia, things don’t seem nearly as complicated. The Nets are 11-5 and are in second place in the East, while the 76ers are 8-7 and in eighth place (Philly has lost five straight). The early returns suggest Simmons’ situation has a greater impact on his team.

OK. If both of these situations remain as is, how realistic is a trade, with the deadline not being until Feb. 10?

It’s not that easy. Philadelphia has tried to find a deal that works for the team and Simmons, but has come up empty. Simmons hasn’t exactly conducted himself as a team player, either, which you could assume might be bringing down his value. He said during the offseason that he wanted to be traded, but here we are in mid-November and he’s still on the 76ers’ roster. As of right now, no team is desperate enough to take him on AND pay the high price Philly is likely demanding.

Meanwhile, Irving is unable to play in home games at Barclays Center due to a New York City mandate. The only other city in which the situation would be the same is San Francisco. That means only the Knicks and Warriors would be at a disadvantage if they traded for him. However, that leaves 27 other teams. Given the amount of work that Durant has been putting in, paired with Brooklyn’s inability to match up against playoff-caliber teams, it’s looking like the Nets need to go ahead and make a trade. They might not get maximum value, but we’d bet Irving is viewed in a higher regard than Simmons at the moment, plus Irving isn’t attached to a ton of money like Simmons is.

The greater NBA community sure hopes these situations just come to an end. It’d be nice for all involved. At this juncture, though, Brooklyn’s better off. Irving’s sitting off to the side somewhere in the shadows while the Nets figure out how to succeed without him whereas the spotlight is constantly on Simmons and Philadelphia with a new storyline (what feels like) every week.

As for financial situations, the Nets are likely done with Irving after this season anyway (he has a player option that he’ll almost assuredly reject in the offseason). The 76ers are stuck with Simmons through the 2024-2025 season AND he has a 15% trade kicker.

It’s not the greatest of times to be a Nets fan at this very moment, but we’d take this 100 times out of 100 than being a Philly diehard.