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Charles Barkley says he can become a ‘free agent’ if TNT loses NBA TV rights

Charles Barkley says he can become a 'free agent' if TNT loses NBA TV rights

There is perhaps no bigger star in NBA television broadcasting than Charles Barkley.

His oversized personality and his chemistry with host Ernie Johnson Jr. and former players Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith, combine to make their “Inside the NBA” studio show incredibly popular.

But with TNT no lock to be part of the league’s next television deal, Sir Charles has made sure his association with “The Association” will continue.

“I just signed a 10-year deal two years ago, but one of the things I did was I put an opt-out in a couple years because I wanted to cover my ass when it comes to this situation,” Barkley said Wednesday in an interview with 850 ESPN Cleveland.

The NBA’s contracts with ESPN/ABC and TNT are set to expire at the end of the 2024-25 season. And Amazon Prime reportedly struck a deal last month to become one of the NBA’s broadcast partners, beginning with the 2025-26 season.

ESPN/ABC is expected to continue broadcasting the NBA, including the NBA Finals. And NBC, which lost NBA broadcast rights in 2002, is reportedly interested in getting back into the league, which could leave TNT out of the picture.

Barkley said he recognized that could be a possibility when he and his “Inside the NBA” colleagues signed their new deals in 2022.

“I said, ‘If you guys lose the NBA, I want to make sure I can get out of here.’ So I am actually in a really great position,” Barkley said. “Listen, I love TNT, they’ve been great to me … I wanted to make sure that if we lost the NBA in two years, I could be a free agent.”

Contributing: Jordan Mendoza

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Charles Barkley reveals opt-out clause if TNT loses NBA TV rights

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