Pro Basketball Hall of Famer and NBA analyst Charles Barkley isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Barkley made headlines this week by predicting an imminent NBA lockout.
“You can’t take my money and say you want to divorce me in six months to a year because you can only get the most out of this team,” Barkley told reporters during NBA All-Star Weekend. “You can’t take all my money and then say, ‘Hey, I want a divorce.’ So I’m pretty sure that’s the next thing that’s going to come out of the CBA. I have no doubt these guys will be locked out.”
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are returning to the negotiating table as the current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2023-24 season. Both sides will try to introduce new conditions for the benefit of the league.
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Barkley believes tensions exist behind closed doors.
He mentioned that NBA owners aren’t very keen on players agreeing deals and forcing their way out of the organization. He was commenting on recent trade requests involving NBA superstars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
The trio signed contract extensions with the Brooklyn Nets. However, they ended up requesting trades due to various issues related to the organization.
“These owners can’t take all their money and treat these owners and fans like crap,” Barkley said. “I’m sure these guys will be locked out because these owners will not stand for it.”
The last NBA lockout occurred during the 2011-12 season. The league was suspended for 161 days as teams did not start play until Christmas Day. During the lockout, players were not able to visit training staff and teams were not allowed to make squad decisions.
Barkley believes the current state of the NBA will likely result in a replay.
“You guys are joking these guys so much today,” Barkley said. “They don’t want to play back-to-back games. Every time a fan says something, they get kicked out. If they are not happy, they want to be traded. It will come to a head in the next CBA.”
The NBA is currently in its 76th season. There have been four lockouts in the league’s history, including the 1998-99 lockout which lasted more than six months. The season was shortened to 50 games and the 1999 NBA All-Star Game was canceled.