Charles Barkley has recently and frequently spoken of his desire to retire from broadcasting at 60 years old. But those plans may be on hold after he reportedly reached a massive contract extension with Warner Bros. Discovery Sports.
On Monday, WBD Sports announced they reached long-term contracts with each member of Inside the NBA, the popular NBA on TNT studio show featuring Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal and Barkley. Ahead of that announcement, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported Barkley’s deal is a 10-year contract that could approach $200 million.
While NBA fans will rejoice at the idea Barkley continuing his basketball commentary for another decade, there are a couple of hurdles that could prevent the Hall-of-Famer from fulfilling his newly signed contract.
Last season, the 59-year-old Barkley repeated his previously claimed desire to retire at the age of 60 and said he planned to stop broadcasting at the conclusion of his current deal with the then-Turner Sports. Barkley’s current contract is set to expire after the 2024-25 season, which coincides with the timing of Turner’s existing NBA rights agreement.
Despite agreeing to a new 10-year contract with WBD Sports, Barkley could presumably still decide to retire in 2025, although it’s hard to imagine him forfeiting upwards of $200 million to spend more time on the golf course. Barkley’s self-touted impulse to retire already appeared to waiver earlier this year when he put his relationship with Turner on the line to flirt with LIV Golf. After failing to reach an agreement with the highly controversial Saudi-funded golf league over the summer, Barkley reaffirmed his loyalty to Turner.
The other potential hurdle that could stunt Barkley’s 10-year contract is WBD’s current NBA rights agreement expiring in 2025. If they don’t re-up with the NBA, Marchand’s report indicates Barkley’s deal could allow him to join other platforms that pick up the league’s game rights. That scenario appears unlikely, however, with Barkley’s 10-year contract being a good indicator that WBD anticipates continuing its long-running partnership with the NBA.
It’s entirely possible that Barkley has been touting his retirement plans as a negotiation ploy. WBD knows how valuable he is to their NBA coverage. And although Barkley’s contract reportedly compensates him nicely with $10 million annually, recent NFL deals have altered the landscape of what sportscasters are paid. After Tony Romo, Troy Aikman and Tom Brady raised the industry standard for sportscaster compensation, Barkley is set up to reap some of those benefits.