The Brooklyn Nets made an NBA-altering move when they signed both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But they were never able to live up to the expectations, either because of injuries or a string of off-court controversies, like Irving’s decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The superstar duo wound up leaving on not-so-good terms with the organization, and they couldn’t get equal value in return for their services. The turmoil became too much to handle after Irving seemed to promote an anti-semitic documentary, and the front office decided to cut ties with them and start from scratch.

However, a report by Brian Lewis of The New York Post states that the Nets could’ve kept Durant at the very least. Unfortunately, Ben Simmons‘ string of injuries led to the superstar forward pursuing a trade to the Phoenix Suns.

Nets Could’ve Kept Durant

“If Simmons had been healthy last season, sources told The Post that Kevin Durant likely would’ve stayed on in Brooklyn even without Kyrie Irving,” wrote Lewis. “Now the Nets can only hope to get Simmons back to his old self to form a building block alongside Mikal Bridges, who arrived in the Durant trade.”

Simmons arrived in Brooklyn as the centerpiece of the James Harden trade. Being a former first-overall pick and still in his prime, expectations were sky-high for him. Then, an injured back and some mental health issues prevented the former Philadelphia 76ers star from making an impact.

Simmons Knows He’s In Debt

Simmons recently admitted that he owes it to Nets fans to get back to full strength and regain his All-Star form. He’s one of the best playmakers and defenders in the league when he’s healthy, and he’s still quite young, so he could be an impactful guy for Jacque Vaughn’s team:

“I never have excuses, I never tried to say anything about different things going on. But I was dealing with an injury at the time, so I did what I could in the moment,” Simmons said, per NBC Sports. “And I owe it to everybody, the fans and everybody, to get back to where I need to be. That’s what I did this summer to get back.”

He looked sharp in his preseason debut vs. the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring 10 points with three assists and one seal in 14 minutes of action. The Nets could look to ease him back into action after such a long layoff, especially considering he’s dealt with foot, knee, calf, shoulder, wrist, and even elbow injuries in the past.

Needless to say, his pairing with Kevin Durant could’ve been one of the most exciting to watch in the league. Nonetheless, his defensive prowess and lenght could give the Nets a Swiss-army knife stopper next to Mikal Bridges, who’s also an elite wing defender. This could be a switch-heavy team on defense with an up-tempo offense.

Nets Need To Compete

With Durant out of town, the Nets are no longer a championship-caliber team, but that doesn’t mean they’ll just give up and tank. The Houston Rockets have the right to swap first-round picks with them, so they have no incentive to tank next season.

Still, it’s been two years since we last saw Ben Simmons at his best, and the fans don’t seem to trust him anymore. We all know what he’s capable of when he’s healthy and locked in, and it’ll be up to him to prove that he can still be a star in this league.

SURVEY Will Ben Simmons be an All-Star again?

Will Ben Simmons be an All-Star again?

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