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.

Why NBA's new tampering proposal won't stop players from recruiting

Why NBA's new tampering proposal won't stop players from recruiting

The NBA is a players' league. 

For nearly a decade, the league at large has been trying to curtail that notion. In the latest effort, the NBA has proposed new rules, including a fine of $10 million for teams caught tampering with potential free agents, according to a league memo obtained by ESPN. 

The proposal comes two months after $1.4 billion in contract terms were agreed to 90 minutes into free agency, all but proving teams and players had agreements prior to the June 30 moratorium period. Such players included Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who were reported to have agreed to terms with the Brooklyn Nets hours before free agency period began. 

Nine years ago, LeBron James sat in the Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn. and -- with the sports world in the palm of his hand -- announced his intention to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, marking the biggest shift to player empowerment since Curt Flood fought for MLB free agency in the 1970s. The move opened the door for players to determine their own futures on a level not seen, to the point that even the league's newest overtures won't help. 

The NBA's latest attempt to stifle player movement is wide-ranging. According to the memo obtained by ESPN, the proposal includes prohibiting players from influencing other players to request trades and random audits on teams to "assess compliance." Additionally, a requirement would be put in place that requires teams to report any instance of a player or representative asking for extra benefits within 24 hours. 

The NBA's newest proposal is in response largely to the recent open recruiting of free agents from former Lakers executive Magic Johnson. In 2017, Johnson alluded to his recruitment of upcoming free agent Paul George during an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Paul, then a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was considering the Lakers in free agency. Though rules forbid Magic to openly recruit George, he did so anyway. 

“We going to say hi because we know each other, you just can’t say, ‘Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,’" Johnson said. "Even though I’ll be wink-winking like, ‘You know what that means, right?’”

Johnson was fined a league-record $500,000 and George signed with the Thunder. Though the league's proposal is aimed at curtailing further actions like Johnson's, it does little to help with player-on-player recruitment. Thirteen years ago -- during the 2006 World Championships -- Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, each a member of a different team, openly pondered the idea of playing together. Each signed short-term deals with their teams to become free agents in 2010, subsequently signing with the Heat in free agency. 

Will the new rules actually prohibit players from doing it again? Probably not. 

No rules are going to stop a player's will under the current landscape. Take Kevin Durant's free agency this summer. Before signing, Durant hadn't met with any executive nor toured any of the Brooklyn Nets facilities, but said he wanted to sign regardless. 

[RELATED: Durant still searching for what slipped from time with Warriors]

The biggest proposal would be for teams to self-report any agent asking for extra benefits. Not sure that could work, considering teams would run the risk of turning off top-flight talent by outing a player's inner circle. 

The NBA is now a player's league, thanks to LeBron James, and even with the current set of rules in place, it doesn't seem like that power struggle will be changing anytime soon. 

Ex-Warrior Andre Iguodala planned to be math teacher before NBA career

Ex-Warrior Andre Iguodala planned to be math teacher before NBA career

Andre Iguodala has made a respectful name for himself in the NBA.

Across eight seasons, he’s helped lead the Warriors to three NBA championships and earned Finals MVP honors during the 2014-15 championship over the Cavaliers.

But was this always his dream? To be a well-known name in a professional sport? 

Not necessarily. 

Believe it or not, Iguodala figured he would be a teacher when he grew up.

“I come from a small town [Springfield, Illinois], and no one knew who I was,” Iguodala told Fast Company’s Claire Miller. “I thought I would go to college and become a math teacher. I remember joking around in practice and my coach was like, “You know there are NBA scouts here,” and I said, “What does that have to do with me?” He said, “Well, who do you think they’re here to see?”

That humbleness remained throughout his career. He mentioned he received advice at one point from a coach who said to take more shots than pass, but as a team player, he’s happy to be more of a distributor.

The Warriors traded Iguodala to the Grizzlies in July in order to clear enough cap space to sign D'Angelo Russell via sign-and-trade, but Warriors owner Joe Lacob has maintained that Iguodala's No. 9 will hang from the rafters someday at Chase Center.

[RELATED: Warriors reveal jerseys ahead of 2019-20 season]

But just imagine … Andre Iguodala, the math teacher. Crazy. Err, Mr. Iguodala. Perhaps Professor Iguodala? 

It appears the journey he chose is working for him just fine, however.