The Boston Celtics are gearing up to play the Nets for the first time this season, but Brooklyn’s new star point guard will not be playing in his former city.

Kyrie Irving will miss Brooklyn’s matchup with the Celtics on Wednesday night due to a shoulder injury. Unsurprisingly, this has revived debates over the Celtics’ less-than-stellar 2018-19 season.

Most of the blame has been placed on Irving, but ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has his own thoughts on the matter.

Smith, a noted supporter of Irving, made his thoughts clear Wednesday on “First Take”, explaining why he believes an “unready” Gordon Hayward starting on day one of the 2018-19 season is partly to blame for the Celtics’ struggles, not just Irving’s attitude.

“I make the contention that Gordon Hayward being inserted into the starting lineup was the death nail to that organization last season,” said Smith. “In fairness to Brad Stevens, who I’m very fond of, and in fairness to Danny Ainge, who I respect profoundly, he and I have spoken and we respectfully disagree, you know? But I make my position very, very clear. Brad Stevens coached Gordon Hayward at Butler, that was his star. That man was not ready. I like Gordon Hayward. I’m proud that when he gets healthy, he’s on the floor, that brother can play. But he was not healthy. And he was getting waxed in practice. He wasn’t ready.”

While many Celtics’ fans likely will disagree, Smith may have a point considering Hayward looked like a completely different player this season prior to his recent hand injury.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images