The Brooklyn Nets were put in a challenging position when they found out they couldn't have any unvaccinated members of the team play in any home games this season. As their starting point guard, Kyrie Irving, made it clear he didn't have any intentions of getting a COVID-19 vaccination, the Nets had a difficult decision to make.
Brooklyn had two options -- either let Irving practice with the team and play in road games only throughout the year -- or tell him he cannot participate in team activities until he can become a full-time member of the organization this year.
Surprisingly, the Nets took the latter route. Earlier this week, Brooklyn's General Manager Sean Marks announced that until Irving is eligible to play in every game for the Nets, whether that means he got vaccinated or the rules changed in Brooklyn, the star guard will not have permission to play.
Of course, that sparked trade rumors immediately. For quite some time, an Iriving swap for the disgruntled Sixers guard Ben Simmons has been an idea that writers and analysts have tossed around. However, there was a league-wide belief that the chances of Irving getting traded are slim since Kevin Durant more than likely has a say in the matter of whether he gets dealt or not.
But as Irving's situation frustrates the Nets -- the possibility of Brooklyn being open to moving Irving might increase. However, there was also a league-wide belief that if Irving got traded, he would retire almost immediately, giving teams such as the 76ers another reason to remain skeptical.
On Wednesday night, Irving addressed the rumors and assumptions during an Instagram live session. As the topic of retirement came up, the 29-year-old All-Star shot down the notion of him retiring due to his vaccination status.
"Don't believe that I'm retiring," Irving said on Wednesday night. "Don't believe that I'm going to give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated. Don't believe any of that [expletive], man."
While he didn't mention anything about possible trades for obvious reasons, Irving's statement regarding retirement might ease future potential trade suitors' minds a bit. Will that be enough to change the Sixers' current interest in a possible swap for Ben Simmons? It's difficult to assume so.
Kyrie Irving might be a tremendous on-court basketball fit in Philly playing alongside Joel Embiid, but taking him on at this time would still be a huge gamble. For the 76ers, it's not in their best interest to take a risk that significant. Plus, sending their own three-time All-Star to one of their direct competitors in the Eastern Conference might not be the best idea either.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.