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."
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 Charles Barkley believes Warriors will struggle to make NBA playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area