Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving needs to quit playing basketball or accept the fact that people are going to about his game and career, says ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
The soon-to-be free agent was spotted at a recent Lakers-Nuggets playoff game in Los Angeles, sparking rumors that Irving could leave the Mavs for a reunion with LeBron James in Lakerland.
But upon hearing the rumors, Irving took to social media to ask the public not to draw any conclusions about his courtside Lakers seats,.
‘Stop mentioning me on Twitter,’ Smith said on Instagram. ‘All y’all fan bases. Stop mentioning me right now please. It is still the…Conference Finals…Can you please leave me the f*** out of this.’
On Friday, Smith responded: ‘If you don’t want us to talk about you as a basketball player, quit, because we’re going to talk about you.’
.@stephenasmith reacts to Kyrie’s recent comments about him in free agency ¿
“Respectfully, to Kyrie Irving, who doesn’t want us talking about him, don’t play basketball. We talk about basketball. … Only him seems to be somebody that would take offense to that.” pic.twitter.com/jCh7z9at6b
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) May 26, 2023
Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (right) needs to quit playing basketball or accept the fact that people are going to about his game and career, says ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith (left)
As Smith explained, discussions about Irving’s future aren’t disrespectful, and should be expected for anyone in the eight-time All-Star’s position.
‘Respectfully, to Kyrie Irving, who doesn’t want us talking about him, don’t play basketball,’ Smith said. ‘We talk about basketball. Nobody’s talking about his personal life. Nobody’s talking about his tweets from months ago. Nobody’s talking about all the things he’s gotten himself involved with, headline-wise, or whatever. Kyrie Irving is a good dude that’s smarter than people give him credit for and all of that other stuff.
‘But I do think it’s utterly ridiculous for him to be telling people: ‘They don’t know, don’t listen to them’ Smith continued.
‘Well, why wouldn’t they listen to us? We’re just talking basketball. We’re prognosticating where you could potentially go. Nobody says they know, or anything like that.’
Irving was hard to miss at the Lakers-Nuggets game, where he was seated in the front row
Smith, who has previously admitted to having a personal issue with Irving, did not stop there.
‘Kyrie Irving seems to be offended by us saying 1 + 1 = 2,’ Smith continued. ‘It is not disrespectful to talk about you, Kyrie Irving, a superstar basketball talent. It is not disrespectful to talk about you playing basketball. That’s all anybody was talking about: Where could Kyrie go?
‘That’s a crime now? Come on bro.
‘Only he seems to be someone who takes offense to that,’ Smith concluded. ‘That makes no sense.’
And when Smith suggested that Irving should quit if he doesn’t want to be subject to the NBA rumor mill, co-host Mike Greenberg chimed in with another idea.
‘Or don’t sit in the most conspicuous seat at the game,’ Greenberg said of Irving and his courtside seat.
And as Smith was quick to point out, Irving likely wasn’t a paying customer that night. Instead, he likely received the tickets from the Lakers, which only fuels speculation that he could be coming to LA next season.
‘You don’t get those tickets on your own,’ Smith said. ‘You get it because the Lakers facilitate you having those tickets. It’s not an accident.’
Kyrie Irving shares a hug with Timberwolves minority owner Alex Rodriguez on May 22
Irving has said he’s in ‘no rush’ to make an announcement on his future, but it’s hard to envision him re-signing with Dallas after the Mavs struggled following his acquisition from the Brooklyn Nets at the trade deadline.
The 31-year-old becomes a free agent in July, when he’ll be eligible for a five-year, $272 million deal with the Mavericks, under the Larry Bird clause, or as much as a four-year, $202 million deal with another team.
The Athletic is reporting that the Mavericks are unlikely to facilitate a sign-and-trade deal for Irving, which limits his options in free agency.
If the Mavericks moved Irving in a sign-and-trade deal, his new team would retain his Larry Bird rights, thereby qualifying him for the aforementioned five-year, $272 million offer. Furthermore, a sign-and-trade deal could allow Irving to join a team that is already over the salary cap, such as the Lakers.