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Nets Trade Analysis

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NEW YORK — This past Thursday afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets acquired three-time All-Star point guard Ben Simmons, center Andre Drummond, shooting guard Seth Curry as well as two future 1st round picks from the Philadelphia 76ers. The key departures from Brooklyn are former 2018 NBA MVP James Harden and veteran power forward Paul Millsap.

With the NBA’s 2021-2022 trade deadline looming, General Manager Sean Marks and the Nets were faced with major decisions regarding their future plans with one of their superstar players: Harden. Currently sitting at a 29-27 record and eighth in the Eastern Conference Standings, Brooklyn was forced to come to terms with a daunting trade deadline ahead. Throughout the past several weeks, there has been skepticism in Harden’s plans on remaining with the Nets past this season.

Harden, 32, averaged 22.5 points, 8 rebounds, 10.2 assists per game in 44 games played with the Nets. The perennial superstar has an opt-out clause in his contract after the conclusion of the 2021-2022 season. Multiple rumors have surfaced in the past several days that Harden would potentially opt out of his contract and join Philadelphia.

Rather than receive no compensation back this summer, Brooklyn agreed to acquire two-time All-Defensive First Team talent Simmons and key role players from the 76ers led by General Manager Daryl Morey. In October of 2021, Brooklyn was slated as the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.

Brooklyn has faced several issues on and off the court. An MCL injury suffered by franchise player Kevin Durant, 33, has caused him to be sidelined for the past four to five weeks. Now Durant will be re-evaluated in the few upcoming weeks past the All-Star break. Point guard Kyrie Irving’ has only played 14 games this season due to his COVID-19 vaccination status. Irving, 29, is averaging 24.1 points and 5.4 assists per game.

The combination of these daily obstacles has caused Nets head coach Steve Nash‘s lineup to be unpredictable on a night to night basis. In the first 56 games, the adjustment window in Brooklyn has been a struggle. With 26 regular-season games remaining, Brooklyn must build up chemistry to lift themselves up in the Eastern Conference standings.

In any professional sports league, trading within the same division is an extremely cautious decision. In this situation, Brooklyn receives a 25-year-old all-defensive caliber player in Simmons to be paired alongside offensive talents Durant and Irving. Despite his poor playoff performance against the Atlanta Hawks last year, Simmons provides flexibility on the defensive side of the ball that Brooklyn has been lacking beforehand.

Furthermore, center at 6’10″ Drummond and three-point threat Curry can create a new blend in both big and small lineups. Additionally, the Nets in this deal received the 76ers 2022 1st round (unprotected) draft pick along with Philadelphia’s 2027 1st round (protected) pick. The outlook on Brooklyn will be a wait-and-see experiment.

Simmons has not played all season due to publicly stated personal mental health issues as well as trying to find the right fit out of Philadelphia. In the 2020-2021 regular season over 58 games, Simmons averaged 14.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in 58 games. He is under a maximum contract with Brooklyn until, after the 2024-2025 season.

The Nets announced on Friday, Simmons will wear No. 10 and will join the team on their upcoming road trip.

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