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#pounditSunday, June 26, 2022

Stephen A. Smith goes off on Kyrie Irving with savage comment

Stephen A Smith reports from the sideline

Dec 18, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith broadcasts before a game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen A. Smith has never shied away from criticizing Kyrie Irving, and the latest shade he threw at the Brooklyn Nets star may have been his harshest to date.

Smith spoke about Irving’s contract situation during ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” on Sunday. Irving has a $36 million player option for the 2022-23 season, and many expect him to decline it. Smith thinks Irving is a phenomenal player, but he would not be willing to give him anything longer than a one-year contract. As Smith described it, Irving is “one of the absolute professionals at missing work.”

Irving has missed a lot of games during his career — and for a variety of reasons. He had the vaccine issue in New York this season. Last season, Irving decided to take time away from the Nets for personal reasons. Smith blasted him for that and suggested Kyrie should either retire or give some of his money back.

Irving is only 30 and still an elite player. He will almost certainly find a team to sign him to a long-term deal, but Smith is right that the contract will come with risk. No matter what the situation, it seems like there is always something with Irving.

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