Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA Photo credit: Inside the NBA

TNT Sports has issued a statement addressing the blockbuster news dropped Friday night by Inside the NBA analyst Charles Barkley, and while the message covers all the expected bases, it hints at some interesting questions.

The two-sentence statement gets right to the point.

“Charles is a Hall of Famer and a broadcasting icon who is and will always be a beloved member of the TNT Sports family,” the statement reads. “We’re looking forward to another fantastic NBA on TNT season and further discussion of our future plans with him.”

Barkley stunned the NBA world Friday night after Game 4 of the NBA Finals when he announced the 2024-25 season would be his final year as a broadcaster. There’s been much speculation regarding the future of Inside the NBA given the new NBA rights media deal that may end up excluding longtime broadcast partner Warner Bros. Discovery, TNT’s parent company.

That in turn has fueled speculation about Barkley’s plans beyond next season. ESPN, Amazon and NBC, all reportedly close to signing new broadcast deals with the NBA, were seen as possible landing sites, and Barkley himself even raised the prospect of continuing Inside the NBA with his own production company.

While Barkley said Friday night in his announcement on NBA TV that “no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television,” the TNT Sports announcement hints at interesting possibilities: “We’re looking forward to another fantastic NBA on TNT season and further discussion of our future plans with him.

That statement raises the possibility TNT still hopes to come in with a last-minute deal to retain some NBA rights, and if so, would try to bring Barkley back.

It would be hard to imagine Barkley walking away from an offer by TNT to continue doing what he’s doing on Inside the NBA beyond next season, despite his statement Friday night. A lot of things would have to go right to make that a reality, but the TNT Sports statement raised hope for Barkley fans.

At the same time, Barkley’s announcement might also complicate Warner Bros.’ prospects of retaining any NBA rights. Because an Inside the NBA without Barkley just would not be the same.

[TNT Sports U.S. PR]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.