Charles Barkley and TNT have agreed to a 10-year, nine-figure deal that will keep one of the biggest draws on television in place for as long as he has the desire to be there, reports Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. Barkley currently has three years remaining on his contract, which expires when Turner's agreement with the NBA concludes after the 2024-25 season. It remains to be seen what the NBA media rights landscape will look like in a few years with both Amazon and Apple making bold charges with deep pockets, but Marchand adds that Barkley could potentially retain his rights to broadcast elsewhere should there be a major shakeup.
It's a sign of the times that we hardly bat an eye at the salary figure. There's been an explosion in the announcer market and the once-exclusive $10 million club is getting a bit crowded. But the length is really what stands out here, as the deal comes on the heels of Barkley being candid and honest about his willingness to retire sooner rather than later. Or, as he puts it, not to die next to "fatass Shaq." And his flirtation with LIV Golf.
Warner Bros. Discovery has committed to expanded Barkley's role in addition to his basketball duties with documentaries and assorted other plans with Round Mound Media, the production company he owns.
To state the obvious, this new contract makes a tremendous amount of sense for both parties. Barkley will get to spread his wings a little while keeping his portfolio's cornerstone. There are no shortage of suitors for his services, yet all would require building something around him in place of the monster of Inside the NBA and it's oft-replicated good bones. TNT knows the value of its biggest star, one that is uniquely irreplaceable, even if de facto minor leagues have been set up to allow his successor to rise.
There are some players a team simply cannot lose. Barkley, though part of an ensemble, is the powerful engine that drives the most celebrated studio show of all time. As negotiations continue, he ensures that TNT remains an extremely attractive league partner, in addition to playing defense on one of the streamers who might consider backing up the Brinks truck as a splashy play announcing their arrival.
Fans everywhere should hope Barkley sticks around for another decade being himself and having no equal. That's also a long time in this uncertain world. More so for someone who seemed willing to walk away in his prime.