The Brooklyn Nets’ superteam is headed towards another breakup. Just last season, the Nets entered the year with multi-time All-Stars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden on the roster. As expected, they were Eastern Conference favorites.
But all wasn’t well in Brooklyn. With Irving refusing to get vaccinated, he was ruled ineligible to play. When the team allowed him to return, he was a part-time player down the stretch of the season. Meanwhile, James Harden grew disgruntled and indicated he wanted a trade.
Therefore, the Nets and the Sixers swapped stars as Simmons went to Brooklyn and Harden went to Philly. Simmons was sidelined for the rest of the year due to a back injury. That left the Nets relying solely on Irving and Durant to carry them through the postseason.
Four games into the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Nets were eliminated by the eventual Eastern Conference champions, the Boston Celtics. Now, Brooklyn faces more uncertainty surrounding its stars going into the free agency period of the offseason.
Hours before the 2022 NBA Draft, several reports indicated that Kyrie Irving could search for a fresh start. Irving could become a free agent as early as July as the star guard could decline his $36 million player option for next season.
If Irving is sure he wants a fresh start, the Nets will benefit from a sign-and-trade, which is something they’ve allowed Irving to look into. Last week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Irving has an interest in possibly joining several teams. Among those teams he likes is the Sixers.
However, the interest doesn’t seem mutual. On Monday afternoon, Wojnarowski reported that while Irving was granted permission to seek a sign-and-trade, only one team is interested. To no surprise, it’s the LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers.
A lack of interest in Irving from Philadelphia is far from surprising. As the Sixers expect to get Harden back in the mix for next season, he becomes the team’s primary ball-handler. And considering the progress Tyrese Maxey made in year two, the Sixers are confident the former Kentucky product is developing into a rising star.
Unless Harden makes a surprising re-route to another team, the Sixers are likely comfortable with their current starting backcourt and will focus on improving at the forward position.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.
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