Kevin Durant trade: Ben Simmons rift with KD could force Nets’ hand this offseason

The Brooklyn Nets very quickly went from fun, quirky underdogs in 2018-19 to a contender in 2020-21 following the summer 2019 signings of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant and James Harden trade of January 2021, to an absolute mess in 2022, getting swept out of the postseason in the first round while getting zero production from their third max contract ‘star’ — this all following an NBA Play-in game single-digit victory over a young Cleveland Cavaliers to even qualify for the Association’s second season.

Quite frankly, Brooklyn would be in a great place roster-wise if they could just get the trio of Irving, KD, and Ben Simmons on the same page. Adding Royce O’Neal was a stealthy riser move, and re-signing Patty Mills and adding T.J. Warren proved this team has no intentions of tanking.

But getting Brooklyn’s ‘big 3’–with a lowercase ‘B’ of course–on the same wavelength doesn’t even appear possible after the latest round of rumors coming from Kings County, New York City.

Rich Bucher reports that Nets players asked Ben Simmons if he would be willing to play in Game 4 against the Boston Celtics and the mere asking of that question led to his self-exile from Brooklyn’s group chat (h/t Twitter). KD’s response?

“This is who I’m playing with?”

Kevin Durant has too many issues in Brooklyn to want to remain in his remaining prime years

So quickly, Brooklyn has descended into madness with the acquisition of all these stars the past several years. It was a convincing enough team for Kevin Durant to sign a four-year, $194 million extension with, but that was before the vaccine mandated-chaos the 2021-22 season NYC mayors Bill de Blasio and Eric Adams, and Kyrie Irving, caused.

James Harden was a goner to Daryl Morey’s new operation via a demanded trade midseason, and Ben Simmons was an ‘arrival’ on the transaction wire and practice only. The Philadelphia 76ers’ former No. 1 overall pick sat out the entire sweep at the hands of the Cs after missing the regular season as well.

KD no longer has the appealing three-star setup of top-line peers with a roster of well-fitting and well-meaning ring-chasers, and has question marks surrounding his top two highly-compensated teammates. Irving is a free agent in a year, and it sounds like Durant doesn’t have a boatload of respect for Simmons.

Kevin Durant and the supporting cast could only go so far in a conference with Giannis Antetokounmpo and a Milwaukee Bucks lineup not lacking Khris Middleton as well as the defenders of the Eastern Conference crown, the Boston Celtics.

The rift’s divide may be too far diverged for the ship to be upright again over in Brooklyn. A KD trade has to happen, if not a Simmons swap. The wound is a very deep one, and simply needs to avoid infection right now.