Charles Barkley Inside the NBA Screen grab: Inside the NBA

Charles Barkley believes there’s still a 50-50 chance that Warner Bros. Discovery keeps its NBA rights and Inside the NBA remains a fixture on TNT, but that hasn’t stopped the show’s crew from being “scared to death” about the future.

Barkley said in an interview on Waddle & Silvy on ESPN 1000 in Chicago on Tuesday that the show’s crew is in the dark as much as NBA fans right now, creating an unsteady atmosphere around the show during these NBA playoffs.

“We have zero idea what’s going to happen,” Barkley said. “We might lose it … it is flat-out brutal, everybody’s scared to death.”

Barkley pointed out that this is the first time the exclusive negotiating window has expired before TNT and the NBA agreed to a new broadcast rights deal.

“It’s 50-50 that we lose our part to NBC,” Barkley said. “Am I concerned? 100%, because as much as we have been partners with the NBA for I think 40 years, you would think if it was close in a bidding war, we would get the benefit of the doubt, but clearly that’s not happening … they’re scared to death over here right now.”

Barkley seems to be alluding to recent reports that WBD CEO David Zaslav expected to “match” NBC’s $2.8 billion offer with a counteroffer of $2.5 billion and was turned down. If WBD cannot get to the $2.8 billion number and does not have legal rights to match Prime Video’s offer, this may be done, as Spotify executive and Ringer host Bill Simmons posited on Sunday night.

Regardless of the business machinations, Barkley’s description of the energy around the workplace at the Inside the NBA studios in Atlanta right now is pretty bleak. If TNT loses NBA rights, tons of producers and technical staff will lose their jobs.

And there’s still a whole season to go before the new package kicks in, meaning TNT could lose its package and still produce the 2024-25 season of NBA games and the famed studio show.

Who could blame TNT’s staff for being nervous?

[ESPN 1000 on X]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.