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Shaquille O’Neal is nowhere to be seen! Big Shaq was not present for Sunday’s Inside the NBA edition. His place was filled by ESPN analyst Vince Carter. These changes come as the future of Inside the NBA on TNT is up in the air. And after admitting he is concerned about the show’s future, it seems like Charles Barkley has dropped a hint on what could be next for him.

NBA is involved in broadcast negotiations in a three part deal. TNT’s current rights contract with the NBA ends after next season and a new deal is not in place currently. ESPN/ABC and Amazon Prime Video have reportedly the first two of three new rights deals with the NBA, leaving TNT and NBC to fight for the remaining rights. With TNT’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery looking unlikely to land the deal, the future of Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkely is also uncertain.

As Ernie Johnson was wrapping up the latest Inside the NBA episode with the announcement schedule of the upcoming NBA awards, Chuck asked, “Wait, 2 ‘0 clock tomorrow afternoon?” He then clarified and said, “We are not doing that, are we? Because I am gonna be on LinkedIn tomorrow afternoon.” Even though this comment may seem light hearted, it also raises the concern that the popular NBA show may not be on air for too long.

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This isn’t the first the Inside crew has talked at length and in short about the NBA’s media rights deal. Nor is it the first or second time that O’Neal is absent from what could very well be the final episodes of the most loved panel of NBA analysts. 

Comcast, the parent company of NBC, and Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of TNT, are both in battle with each other for the league’s media rights. The former is reportedly offering $2.5 billion and if TNT can’t match the offer, it’s bye-bye to Inside the NBA on TNT. 

Due to this uncertainty, both Shaq and Barkley have remained absent from the show they made their own. Last week following the game between the Nuggets and the Timberwolves, Inside the NBA, Draymond Green and Vince Carter filled in for Barkley and Shaq. However, their absence was down to them being in New York to pitch ad buyers at TNT Sports’ Upfront presentation.

And then recently there was the cryptic IG post from Shaq after his absence from the show. Earlier, Barkley had expressed his concerns about the show’s future and said he had “zero” idea of what was going on.

Barkley said he is “concerned 100%” about TNT’s future with the NBA

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The idea of separating the foursome of Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith may seem like a bad idea. This group has a wide-reaching audience and never fails to entertain the viewers. Particularly, the Big Diesel and the Chuckster. The back and forth between the pair of them about anything and everything is one of the most beloved moments of the show. However, it does not seem to be enough for TNT to land NBA again.

Speaking to ESPN, Barkley talked about the future on Inside the NBA and said, “Am I concerned? 100%, we have zero idea of what’s going to happen. We might lose it. I feel so bad for the people I work with. I mean it is brutal, it is flat out brutal. Everybody’s scared to death.”

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While Barkley seems convinced that there is no chance of a sunny morning, Shaq’s former agent and confidante, Leonard Armato, who recently appeared on Essentiallysports Fancast, has a more positive outlook. 

He spoke of a “wildcard” during his conversation and even said, “There’s no other show that even compares to Inside the NBA on TNT.” Well, here’s to hoping that whatever wildcard Armato spoke helps the matters for TNT. As he said, there is no crew like those four.