If Charles Barkley makes good on his public avowals to step away from the Inside the NBA franchise before his contract runs out in June 2025, Turner Sports has taken out an insurance policy with its signing of Draymond Green.
While there can be no replacing the media phenomenon that is Sir Charles, who has spent the last two decades spitting fire, talking trash and generally serving to make the show the most hilariously watchable studio production on the tube, TNT’s formal hire presents an opportunity to develop Green’s TV chops while he’s still an active player.
Per terms of the multiyear deal, Green will drop in on the Inside the NBA team throughout the season. These appearances, for the most part, will be virtual, although it’s a safe bet Green will put in some face time with Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal when Golden State visits the Atlanta Hawks on March 25.
Barkley and Green have enjoyed busting each others’ stones over the years, and their back-and-forth led to the latter making a number of appearances at Studio J during the back-end of the pandemic-blighted 2019-20 season. Aside from slipping behind the desk as effortlessly as most people glide into a pair of sweatpants, Green’s chemistry with the TNT team and his Clyde Frazier-grade basketball smarts have made such an indelible impression on fans and Turner Sports execs that his promotion to part-time analyst now seems almost inevitable.
Green made things official on Thursday night, speaking to the Inside the NBA crew from the court at Oracle Arena after the Timberwolves-Warriors telecast. The 31-year-old was quick to dispel any talk that he would be hanging up his size-15 Converse any time soon. “I’m not going into TV yet,” Green said. “I’m still trying to be an All-Star, I’m still trying to win championships, so it can hold off for a little while, but sometimes maybe I can bless the screen, if I can.”
As athletes make increasingly seamless transitions from the court to the broadcast booth, talent agencies have been working to blaze a trail from one side of the camera to the other. Such was the impetus behind Wasserman’s recent acquisition of The Montag Group, although neither entity handled Green’s TNT deal. After years of being repped by Wasserman’s B.J. Armstrong, Green jumped to Klutch Sports Group in February 2019. Among the NBA titans on Klutch agent Rich Paul’s roster are LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Lonzo Ball and Ben Simmons.
Green, who has been inactive for the Warriors’ last 12 games—that tally includes a seven-second ceremonial appearance during Klay Thompson’s long-awaited return to the lineup on Jan. 9—said his recovery is going well and that he plans to meet with specialists early next week. Never one to shy away from working in an on-air shoutout for one of the innumerable brands he endorses, Shaq advised Green to slather a little liniment on his lower back. “Uh, Draymond, Dr. O’Neal here. You don’t need a specialist; you just need to go to Walgreens, get some of that Icy Hot,” he said. “Man up, Draymond!”
“Always working! Always!” Green chuckled.
The segment ended with a shot of Barkley’s SUV being towed from a parking spot that had been reallocated for Green’s use.
TNT is securing Green’s services as Barkley’s tenure winds down. Of course, there’s no counting out a five-man desk, even though Barkley claims he’s about to enter his third act. “I’m only hanging out for another couple of years, then they can kiss my ass,” Barkley said in a June 2021 radio interview. “I am only working until I am 60. I already told them that,” Barkley said during a sit-down on DC’s 106.7 The Fan. “I’m not working to the day I die. That’s just stupid. If I don’t have enough money by now, I’m an idiot, so they should fire me anyway.”
Barkley has made similar pronouncements in years past, only to have a change of heart. Back in 2015, then-Turner Sports boss David Levy trekked to Barkley’s home in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he plied the analyst with an elaborate Italian feast that included nearly $2,000 worth of wine and tequila. Barkley had to sleep on it (or sleep it off, depending on who’s telling the story), but he told Levy that he’d sign an extension the very next day, during a round of golf.
While Levy’s no longer in the plying-Charles-with-manicotti-and-Barolo business, Barkley’s co-workers aren’t planning any farewell parties. If nothing else, TNT should have plenty of money to toss Barkley’s way once the WarnerMedia-Discovery deal closes in the spring.
However things shake out with Sir Charles, Green will have ample time to hone his craft before he becomes a permanent fixture in Atlanta—either as a fifth man on the desk or as part of a quartet.