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Stephen A. Smith explains why Kyrie Irving should never receive a long-term contract — “He is one of the absolute professionals at missing work”

Stephen A. Smith knows Kyrie Irving will sell tickets. But teams should also consider his past behavior before making an offer.
ESPN reporter Stephen A. Smith and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving

Stephen A. Smith and Kyrie Irving

With the Brooklyn Nets on the brink of an early playoff exit, basketball analyst Stephen A. Smith is already looking forward to the offseason. In particular, the gregarious media man has his eyes locked on Kyrie Irving and the guard’s future contract. For Smith, Irving is still a good and marketable player, but he should never receive a long-term offer.

One year at a time

Smith gave the Nets and other teams some tips on negotiating a contract with Irving. The analyst is confident that Irving will attract hoards of basketball fanatics to buy tickets. However, there’s no guarantee that he’ll always suit up. And so the proper thing to do from a financial point of view is to sign Kyrie to a one-year contract.

Kyrie Irving is box office, this brother deserves $50 million a year. I would never give him a long-term contract again. He cannot be trusted. You pay him one year at a time. I don’t care how much money he gets, you pay him one year at a time. You know why? ’Cause you gotta make sure he shows up to work,” Smith said.

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Smith beefed up his argument by citing the numbers. In addition, Irving played a mere 29 games this season due to his refusal to take the vaccine. He was later allowed to suit up but only in cities where there’s no mandatory vaccine mandate. Apart from this, there’ve been numerous times when Irving refused to play due to personal reasons. He’s also an injury-prone player and hasn’t completed an entire 82-game season.

“This man has played in 11 seasons in this NBA. He has played over 60 games 4 times and there’s 82 games in the season. He is one of the absolute professionals at missing work. I’m not giving him a long-term deal, you got to be crazy.”

Stephen A. Smith, ESPN

Contract status

Irving’s up for a player option next season worth $36.5 million. He said in March that he intends to remain in New Jersey. But amid their mediocre postseason performance, Irving might head back to the drawing board to evaluate his plans.

In October 2021, the Nets announced that they would not offer a $186 million extension due to Irving’s Covid-19 vaccine holdout. The organization respects Irving’s choice, but his absence and unpredictable behavior have hurt them.

Smith’s comments may sound ludicrous. After all, every NBA player wants stability in their career. And a team, too, needs ample time to develop its chemistry. A year with a superstar will never be enough. But this seems to be the treatment Irving deserves. Safe to say that future negotiations with Irving will be interesting and provide a good amount of entertainment.


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