In the course of just a couple years, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons have become two of the most polarizing players in basketball. 

From Irving's eyebrow-raising flat Earth comments in Cleveland, to his departure from Boston and arrival in Brooklyn to last week's "My mask is off" Twitter controversy, the veteran point guard finds himself in the spotlight for sometimes-bizarre reasons. Everybody knows, however, that no matter what's going on in the media, traditional or social, Kyrie is going to bring it on the court. One of the most skilled players of his generation, Irving was playing great basketball before an injury took him down midway through the Nets' series with the Milwaukee Bucks this summer. 

Simmons, on the other hand, was not playing great basketball when his season ended. Taking an unceremonious exit at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of last year's playoffs, Simmons averaged only 11.9 points per game in the postseason and seemingly refused to take any shots (from any distance) as the games came down to the wire. Following up his poor performance with what might be the story of the NBA offseasonSimmons has now declared that he will not report to 76ers training camp and that he will never play another game for the franchise. 

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Simmons' refusal to play has the Sixers (pretty slowly) scrambling to scrape together a trade for the max-contract point forward and many looked at Irving's situation in Brooklyn as a good one to swap Simmons into. 

Kevin Durant disagreed. According to Stephen A. Smith, KD stepped in and vetoed a trade that would have sent Irving to Philly for Simmons.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

 

"Kyrie could've ended up in Philly," Smith told Kendrick Perkins on this morning's episode of ESPN's First Take. "Sean Marks couldn’t do that because KD wasn’t having it. I assure you: If it was not for Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets would be interested in making that deal."

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Stephen A., who has had his issues with Durant in the past, has been known to embellish *just* a little bit from time to time so it's understandable to question the validity of these claims but, assuming they're true, it seems that KD was not here for any talk of moving Kyrie for Ben Simmons. The two signed in Brooklyn together and, like many others, believe they would have made a run to the NBA Finals had it not been for Irving's season-ending injury and another injury that slowed James Harden considerably.

Whatever happens to Simmons is yet to be seen, but after spending all of yesterday getting roasted for saying he won't play for the 76ers, it's clear that he wants out of Philly and to find a spot in a situation that better suits his needs on and off the court. 

What do you think of Stephen A.'s report that KD stepped in to stop this trade? Would you make that trade if you're Brooklyn? Let us know in the comments.

[Via]