Charles Barkley: The NBA Has Never Been Worse

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty)

I'm not sure the NBA's conference finals could be any more shocking.

The Golden State Warriors, who just broke the league's previously unbreakable wins record, are getting embarrassed by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, who looked to be shoe-ins for the NBA Finals after 10 consecutives victories, are unexpectedly locked in a 2-2 dogfight with the Toronto Raptors.

And still, NBA analyst Charles Barkley is entirely unimpressed.

“It has nothing to do with the Warriors’ greatness, LeBron’s greatness," Barkley told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "But I’ve never seen the NBA as bad as it is, and I’ve been saying it the last three or four years. We’ve got too many young players coming out of college that don’t know how to play. It’s frustrating for me because I want to see competitive basketball.

“We took a survey on our crew … How many actual NBA teams would you buy season tickets for?” he added. “Four in the West and Cleveland obviously in the East. That’s not good for our league.”

With the salary cap rising this season and so many teams able to spend, Barkley is worried the "super teams" trend will continue to hurt the league due to imbalance.

“There’s no chance at parity,” Barkley said. “This summer is going to be, to be honest with you, basically do or die for the NBA. Everybody can pay everybody this summer. If all these guys get together and we have five good teams and the rest of the teams are awful, it’s going to be a bad product.

“Fans aren’t stupid.”

If that's what Barkley is worried about, however, 2016 isn't the offseason he should watch out for. Now that Kevin Durant and OKC look once again like a match made in heaven and LeBron James seems unlikely to leave Cleveland, the next biggest unrestricted free-agent star that will be available is Hassan Whiteside, followed by DeMar DeRozan, Mike Conley, and Al Horford.

Good players, all. But nothing when compared to the crop of guys likely to hit the market in 2017: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Gordon Hayward, and Kyle Lowry.

All the while, the salary cap will jump from roughly $90 million in 2016 to a projected $108 million, creating a free agency bonanza unlike anything since "The Decision."