Charles Barkley

Why Charles Barkley won't pick Kings to make NBA playoffs this year

Why Charles Barkley won't pick Kings to make NBA playoffs this year

Charles Barkley doesn't want to be wrong again. 

That's why the "NBA on TNT" analyst told NBC Sports Bay Area's Dalton Johnson Friday in an exclusive interview that he won't pick the Kings to make the NBA playoffs next season. 

"Well I'm a big De'Aaron Fox fan, but let me tell you somethin' -- I picked the Kings to make the playoffs the last two years," Barkley said from the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe. "I'm not gonna do it again. That'll be three strikes, and I'll be out. I have picked the Sacramento Kings to make the playoffs two years in a row. I'm not gonna get on here and be stupid and be wrong three years in a row."

"They're gonna have to prove it to me," Barkley added with a smile.

Last season marked the closest the Kings have come to making the postseason since their last playoff berth in 2005-06. Sacramento won 39 games, and finished ninth in the Western Conference. 

Fox, in his second NBA season, finished as a finalist for the Most Improved Player award. Rookie big man Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, made the All-Rookie First Team.  

[RELATED: What Kings can learn from end of Thunder-Westbrook era]

Sacramento loaded up in free agency, but faces a tough road back to the postseason given the moves made by the rest of the Western Conference. Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis both are in Los Angeles now, while Russell Westbrook will team up with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate James Harden on the Houston Rockets. 

The Kings will rely on Fox, Bagley and the rest of their young core making another leap next season. If that's enough to get back to the playoffs for the first time in nearly 15 years, proving themselves to Barkley will be an added bonus. 

Why Charles Barkley believes Warriors will struggle to make NBA playoffs

Why Charles Barkley believes Warriors will struggle to make NBA playoffs

NBA legend Charles Barkley has been around the league for more than 30 years. He's seen it all, except for a summer like this. 

"Easily the craziest [offseason] I've ever had to deal with," Barkley said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Bay Area from the American Century Championship golf tournament on Friday. "It's been fun, exciting, interesting." 

With stars like Kawhi Leonard headed West where he'll team up with Paul George on the Clippers, Anthony Davis joining LeBron James on the Lakers, Russell Westbrook yet again forming a duo with James Harden and Kevin Durant leaving the Bay Area for Brooklyn, many have their doubts about the Warriors next season. After appearing in five straight NBA Finals, some pundits believe Golden State might even miss the playoffs. 

Count Barkley in on the experts that think the 2019-20 season will be anything but a cakewalk for the Warriors. But it's the absence of a player who's not KD that has the Hall of Famer doubting the Dubs. 

"I'm a big Klay Thompson fan," Barkley said. "So I think that's the one thing they're gonna miss the most, even more than KD." 

Thompson is expected to miss multiple months at the start of the season after tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. If he makes a full recovery, he's pegged to return sometime in February or March. 

"I think they're gonna struggle to make the playoffs without Klay [Thompson]. The West, there's no bad teams in the West. There are no bad teams," Barkley said. "Obviously, everybody's talking about the Lakers and the Clippers, I haven't even mentioned Denver, the Spurs, Dallas got a lot better, New Orleans got a lot better.

"This is unbelievable how hard the West is."

Barkley has caused quite a stir among Warriors fans for years now. Nothing gets under Dub Nation's skin quite like his feelings on Steph Curry, though. He even left Curry off his top-five current players in the NBA last April. 

One month later, he admitted he was wrong as Curry silenced his doubters in the playoffs. If the Warriors do struggle next season, Barkley doesn't believe it will have anything to do with the two-time MVP. 

"Steph's gonna be Steph. He's one of the best basketball players in the world," Barkley said. "I just don't think they have enough without Klay." 

Replacing Thompson while he rehabs his torn ACL will be All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell. The Warriors acquired the former No. 2 pick in a sign-and-trade with the Nets. Russell, 23, averaged 21.1 points and 7 assists last season for Brooklyn. 

But he's not exactly the perfect pairing for Curry. Russell thrives with ball in his hands and struggles defensively. 

"I'm not even sure how D'Angelo's gonna fit into that system to be honest with you," Barkley said. "But Steph is gonna do his thing. And then it depends on what position they're in once Klay comes back. There are no easy games in the West, so it's gonna be a dog fight for them every single night."

[RELATED: Steph will end as top-10 player of all time, Perkins says]

In this case, Sir Charles is only being realistic. This is sure to be the hardest season yet for the Warriors under Steve Kerr, and it's going to be a wild ride to watch.

Kevin Durant's Achilles injury sparks blame game, strong urge to vent

Kevin Durant's Achilles injury sparks blame game, strong urge to vent

OAKLAND -- So often a hurricane unto themselves, the Warriors are now at the center of a raging debate that transcends sports or politics or personality. Their integrity is under attack and their compassion is being questioned.

We all know why: Kevin Durant’s return to the court Monday in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, after a 32-day absence due to what was described as a calf injury, began with a brilliant 12 minutes of basketball and ended in sudden tragedy that landed him in surgery 36 hours later.

Though there are no regrets from the Warriors and, more significantly, from Durant, we’ve been inundated with heated chatter on TV and radio, as well as various social media outlets. Durant’s injury is ground zero for a finger-pointing epidemic.

“Everybody has great 20/20 hindsight,” Stephen Curry said Wednesday.

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley says KD should not have been playing and that the Warriors are to be blamed. NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady says, nah, that KD did what great athletes do. Former NBA player Eddie Johnson agrees with McGrady.

Former NFL cornerback Charles Woodson and current NFL cornerback Richard Sherman agree with McGrady and Johnson. Former NBA center -- and ex-teammate of Durant -- Kendrick Perkins says, nah, and blames the Warriors for “pressuring that man to play.”

Such madness tends to surface in moments of misfortune or failure. Emotions never flare higher than in the midst of anger or the wake of loss. It happens with the death or serious accidents involving loved ones, with incidents that bring pain and even with natural disasters that alter lives.

Folks seek answers and, failing to get a response that satisfies, assign blame.

Bob Myers, president of basketball operations for the Warriors, visualizing this reaction, walked up to the podium two hours after KD went down and accepted responsibility.

“As Bob mentioned the other night, there's going to be blame,” coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. “There's going to be finger pointing. We understand that and we accept that. This is kind of what you sign up for when you get into coaching, general management, in the NBA. There is all kinds of coverage, judgment, criticism. And it's all part of it, so we accept that.”

The Warriors’ medical staff, with Dr. Rick Celebrini, is taking blows for not realizing Durant was vulnerable. Kerr is being criticized for too quickly extending KD’s minutes. Some are blaming Durant, who can be a free agent on June 30, for not protecting his own interests.

Attempting to set the record straight, Durant posted on Instagram shortly after coming out of surgery Wednesday.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Byn0c6NjoQq/

Kerr explained the inclusive process that led to KD being cleared to play in Game 5, pointing out that the decision was reached in consultation with the team’s medical staff, Durant’s “second opinion” doctor, KD himself, and his business partner, Rich Kleiman,

“Kevin checked all the boxes, and he was cleared to play by everybody involved,” Kerr said.

The outside opinions are less about Durant than the aftermath. The scene in Toronto, with KD dropping to the floor clutching his lower right leg, was enough to spark outrage. And outrage needs an outlet and, eventually, a target.

Who and what could be more convenient than the employer?

“There are 24 hours in a day and there are a lot of different takes you can have on a situation like that,” Curry said. “In our cases, and as well as ‘K’ and knowing him as a person and behind the scenes, we all want to play basketball. If we have an opportunity to play or a chance to play, we want to play. That's just how it is as competitors, and especially at this stage.

“I trust our medical staff and know Bob Myers has our best interests in terms of not just what we can do in this series, but long term in our overall health. You see how hard he took it, talking to you guys after the game. And that's really genuine and authentic. So, you can waste time talking about the what-ifs and this and that. Injuries are tough and they suck. They're a part of our game, and they're going to continue to be a part of our game.”

[RELATED: How long KD's recovery from ruptured Achilles might take]

The outrage will pass, though probably not this week or this month. It’s going to take a while. Right now, though, venting helps. It can be therapeutic.

So don’t be too hard on Barkley and Perkins and those who currently share their opinion. They’re saying what they feel, not what they know.