Stephen A. Smith: Kevin Durant Nixed Potential Kyrie Irving-Ben Simmons Trade

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving / Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Ben Simmons trade rumors have driven the NBA offseason economy and we're only just getting started. Simmons officially requested a trade earlier this week, as initially reported by Adrian Wojnarowski and later confirmed by Doc Rivers on ESPN. The All-NBA defender will not be showing up to training camp or anything after that to try and force Philadelphia's hand.

Over the summer, we heard all sorts of rumblings about who might be interested in Simmons and what the trade package might look like. One possibility that was floated but never emerged as a substantiated report was a Ben Simmons-Kyrie Irving swap. It is one of the few Simmons trades that appeared to be a clear win-win: Brooklyn gets one of the best defenders in the league to throw at Giannis Antetokounmpo and other players of his ilk while Philadelphia gets an elite perimeter creator to take the load off Joel Embiid.

The problem is that it's just a trade in theory. The Nets had shown no inclination to trade Irving and as far as we know it was never officially discussed. That changed today when Stephen A. Smith reported that Brooklyn would have had interest in trading Irving for Simmons, but Kevin Durant told them not to do it.

It sounds like the sequence of events unfolded as followed: GM Sean Marks thought about an Irving-Simmons trade and the benefits his team could reap if he pulled it off. He floated it by Durant to take his temperature on it. Durant shot it down, and that was that.

This lends more credence to Nick Wright's report from last week that Irving would simply retire if traded by Brooklyn. It seemed, at the time, a weird thing to just throw out there when there was no noise about Brooklyn possibly trading Irving. But now it seems he and Smith are listening to the same rumor circles.

It is entirely unsurprising Durant had the power to call off the trade, but man, what could have been. Trades of epic proportions that makes both teams significantly better are extraordinarily rare. And we were robbed of it. Such fantasies are now reserved for NBA2K.