ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has been one of Kyrie Irving’s biggest critics, and he’s not backing down after the Brooklyn Nets agreed to trade the superstar to the Dallas Mavericks.
Kyrie Irving demanded a trade when the Nets made him a contract offer. The three-year extension reportedly would only become fully guaranteed if Brooklyn won a championship. While Irving was insulted by the offer, Smith agreed that the Nets shouldn’t have given the new Mavs guard a long-term deal.
Kyrie Irving is a guy who believes it is a privilege for you, to watch him play, rather than it being a privilege, he possesses to have the skills that he has to put on display for us to watch.
Watch more on this topic in today's episode – the link is in the bio. pic.twitter.com/dQRi7KjrtH
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) February 6, 2023
“Every single damn thing I said about Kyrie Irving, I meant it,” Smith said on the “Know Mercy with Stephen A. Smith” podcast. “He’s a superstar basketball player. He’s a sensational talent. He is box office. He is worth $50 million a year, easy. I would just pay him one year at a time. I ain’t giving that brother no long-term deal because I can’t trust him. I’m not doing that.”
Irving was so insulted by the Nets’ proposal that he wouldn’t have signed a four-year, $198 million max contract offer to stay in Brooklyn, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The Nets and Irving had a contract dispute last summer. Irving threatened to opt-out of the final year of his deal when Brooklyn wouldn’t give him a four-year contract. After discovering that no team was willing to pay him a max deal, Irving picked up his option for nearly $37 million in the 2022-2023 season.
Irving hasn’t been a reliable player for quite some time. The 30-year-old was suspended earlier this season and missed most of last year because he refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Since signing with the Nets in 2019, Irving hasn’t played more than 54 games in a season. Irving last played more than 67 games six years ago.
When he’s on the court, Irving is one of the most productive offensive players in the league. Irving is averaging 27.1 points on 48.6% shooting this season. Irving is also averaging 5.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.
The Mavs could lose Irving in free agency after giving up two starters and three draft picks in the trade.