Stephen A. Smith is a commanding television presence, using his boisterous voice and personality to offer daring sports takes. His comments Wednesday on Nets point guard Kyrie Irving were no different.
One day after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported 76ers forward Ben Simmons intends to never play another game for the team, Smith said on “First Take” that Irving could have ended up in Philadelphia in a trade for Simmons, though the idea was nixed by Nets forward Kevin Durant.
“Let me tell you something right now — Philadelphia might have said no, but I assure you, if it were not for Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets would be interested in making that deal,” Smith said.
“If Ben Simmons was in Brooklyn with KD and James Harden, it’s a wrap. They’re winning the chip,” Smith added.
Smith has been criticized for his takes in the past, including a recent offering in which he said MLB star Shohei Ohtani’s inability to speak English “hurts the game.” Twitter users were quick to question Smith’s report about Irving and Simmons, arguing that Irving — a talented ballhandler who can score in a multitude of ways — is a better fit for Brooklyn than Simmons, a more capable defender who can’t score at the same rate.
Who gives the Nets a better chance to win an NBA Championship?
— How Hard Is It To Answer? (@AnswerThePole) September 22, 2021
why tf does a good amount of people think ben simmons matches up with kyries value and skills 💀
— jerrellfanboy (@GoatJerrell) September 22, 2021
On Thursday, Smith attempted to clarify that he never said the Nets put together a trade package for Simmons. Still, users weren’t forgiving.
Kyrie would never work in Philly. Randomly not showing up to games and not being in contact with the team people won’t take that.
Taking a day off is one thing but just disappearing for a week and no one can contact you.
He is better than Ben but a different type of head case.
— Lou (@LouSeph84) September 23, 2021
It’s hard to imagine that Simmons’ fit in Brooklyn would be better than Irving’s. In the 2021 NBA playoffs, Simmons shot 25 of 73 (34 percent) from the free throw line, which was the second-worst percentage from the stripe in playoff history for a player with at least 50 attempts, according to CBS Sports HQ.
Simmons has also struggled to establish a 3-point shot during his career, something that has held the 76ers back from advancing further in the playoffs. That would also seem to be a detriment to the Nets, who last season finished with the most efficient offense in NBA history, per Stathead.