kyrie irving
Kyle Terada | USA TODAY Sports

When there is Kyrie Irving news, an aghast Stephen A. Smith is not far behind.

The mercurial Nets star’s biggest critic played the hits on Monday’s edition of ESPN First Take — a few hours after The Athletic reported Irving and the Nets are at an impasse. Smith pointed about how unreliable Irving has been, and how no team should give him a long-term deal. Basic stuff. But then Smith threw in a little reporting while yakking with analyst Kendrick Perkins.

“Did you know that this brother Kyrie Irving last season would conduct his own practices?” Smith said, via Bleacher Report. “So when Steve Nash had the team on the floor, and they practiced, they would finish and he’d go and get five guys and conduct his own practice. … Do you have any idea how disrespectful that is to Steve Nash?”


Irving doesn’t even like to play in the actual games half the time. But he found the time to organize his own practices after the actual practice ended?

He must be truly serious about being the first player/coach/associate general manager in NBA history.

Anyway … it’s hard to see how Irving and the Nets don’t remain together next season. Likely after agreeing to a contract extension.

It would be a big risk for Irving — who has a substantial injury history separate from his vaccine refusal and other excuses he has delivered to not play for the Nets — to decline the $37 million in guaranteed money his player option for next year provides. And while the Nets may be tired of his act, they have little choice but to stick with him. Their salary cap restraints would prohibit them from getting another star player to replace him. And he has Kevin Durant’s seemingly unwavering support, for whatever reason. So don’t order those Knicks jerseys yet.

James Kratch can be reached at

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.