Grading the trade for the Brooklyn Nets
If Simmons becomes even half the player that he was before his career took a turn for the worse, the Nets definitely wouldn’t want to move two first-round picks for three role players who don’t move the needle heavily for them come playoff time, especially just to get off Simmons’ contract.
That being said, if Simmons proves that his play this year ends up being emblematic of what it was last year, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks may be forced into an uncomfortable situation where he’d have to decide if Simmons is worth keeping around any longer.
With the potential that his value could get even worse given the slippery slope that he is currently on, Brooklyn would definitely at least consider sending out excess draft capital just to get back three neutral assets.
Brooklyn could also deem Simmons’ play from last year to be enough of a sample size to prove that he just simply isn’t the same player that he once was.
Simmons last played February 15 against the Miami Heat before subsequently being shut down for the rest of the season in March after receiving a PRP injection in his left knee as well as being diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his back.
Per his agent Bernie Lee, Simmons is expected to be fully healthy with no limitations after taking the summer to train and recover ahead of the Nets training camp on October 3.
Whichever angle the Nets end up taking with Simmons is certainly up for debate, but they certainly are the clear losers in this trade as they’d have to give up multiple first-round picks just to get away from the albatross of a contract that Simmons is on.
They also don’t receive a groundbreaking return as they’d likely keep around only one of JaVale McGee or Richaun Holmes to mentor their young bigs of Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe.
The Mavs already saw how much McGee’s play last year depreciated from his previous year in Phoenix, and while Holmes could potentially be a serviceable big off the bench in Brooklyn, it’s doubtful either one of them would stick around long-term.
Hardaway Jr. would be the only definite positive asset the Nets would be getting back in this trade. After averaging 14.4 points per game and shooting 39 percent from three-point range last season, Hardaway was one of the few bright spots on an underwhelming Mavs team last year after his season was cut short in 2021-22 due to injury.
Hardaway Jr. would add much-needed shot creation for the Nets and would be re-joining former Mavericks Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie in Brooklyn.
However, arguably the Nets' biggest need isn’t sufficed, that being extra playmaking or a point guard of higher caliber than Dinwiddie.
Depending on how Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn wishes to play stylistically, Hardaway may not even start for the Nets if he were to be traded there.
Potential starting lineup: Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Nicholas Claxton
The Nets run with the same starting lineup they ended the year with last year, as Simmons doesn’t get the opportunity to redeem himself into the player he was in Philadelphia after one failed year in Brooklyn.
The Nets may opt to start Hardaway Jr. instead of Finney-Smith if they need more of an offensive jolt in their starting lineup, but they don’t address their biggest need and have to depend on their continuity carrying them across the board if they were to make this trade.
The Nets earn a C- as they improve around the margins, especially since Simmons would’ve likely continued his downward spiral of play if this trade occurred. That being said, the positives outweigh the negatives. The Nets don’t take the next step as a team and give up a whole two first-round picks just to move on from the failed Simmons experiment if this were to happen, leaving them in a precarious direction ahead of the trade deadline and playoffs next year.