February 20, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; TNT broadcaster Ernie Johnson Jr. after the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With Warners Bros. Discovery all but certain to lose its stronghold on NBA rights, it could mark the end of Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal on TNT’s Inside the NBA.

Barkley has maintained that his contract gives him the option to leave TNT if it loses NBA rights, but whether that holds for his colleagues hasn’t yet been revealed.

What has been revealed though, according to Sports Business Journal’s Tom Friend is that Johnson is likely to stick with TNT Sports, and that’s largely because Johnson’s value goes beyond the NBA. He’s a key figure in other properties there, including leading their studio coverage for March Madness and having experience with Major League Baseball on TBS.

Barkley joined Frank Isola and Brian Scalabrine Wednesday morning on SiriusXM NBA Radio and seemed to echo his previous sentiments, while also pointing to the possibility of retirement being around the corner for EJ.

“I know Ernie will not go anywhere,” Barkley said. “Ernie’s almost 70 years old, I think he’s gonna retire sooner than later. I don’t think he would go to another network. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Amazon, ESPN, or if we lose it to NBC. I’m not sure how to answer that question, honestly. I just don’t know. Ernie would not go to another network; I’m damn sure about that. But I would listen. I would listen before I made any decisions.”

Not that there was any doubt, but it doesn’t seem like Inside the NBA in its current state will just transfer over to a separate network. Johnson doesn’t seem primed to go elsewhere, instead keeping his roots in Atlanta as he nears retirement. And according to Barkley, that’ll likely be sooner than we might think.


About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.