The Brooklyn Nets are not a realistic trade destination for Ben Simmons. That doesn’t mean that team isn’t intrigued by the possibility of a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, even if it would involve giving up one of their superstars.

According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Brooklyn’s front office would gladly swap Kyrie Irving for Simmons. The Nets won’t make an offer, Smith says, because Kevin Durant wants Irving to stay in Brooklyn.

This isn’t the first time this offseason that Irving’s name has been linked to trade rumors. Fox Sports’ Nick Wright reported last week that a few trades involving Irving could make sense for Brooklyn, but no deal will be made because the point guard’s representatives have made it known that Irving would retire from the NBA if moved.

On paper, the Nets might be smart to explore trading Irving. The team has plenty of offense with Durant and James Harden on the roster. Trading Irving for a defensive star like Simmons could make Brooklyn that much better.

Realistically, Irving isn’t going anywhere. 

Durant and Irving teamed up to sign with the Nets as free agents in 2019. Harden demanded a trade to Brooklyn last season in order to play alongside the superstars. 

Simmons has demanded a trade of his own. The All-Star reportedly won’t attend training camp and doesn’t plan on playing another game for the 76ers. No team has been willing to match Philadelphia’s lofty asking price. 

Philadelphia finished just ahead of Brooklyn for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season.

Brooklyn led the NBA with a 117.3 offensive rating in the regular season. The Nets ranked 22nd with a 113.1 defensive rating.

The Nets are already heavy favorites to win the 2022 NBA Finals. Injuries to Irving and Harden derailed Brooklyn in the second round of the 2021 playoffs.

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets Photo: Getty Images | Sarah Stier