Kenny Smith hasn't heard from Charles Barkley about retiring from broadcasting: 'We'll see'

Kenny Smith says that Charles Barkley has not discussed retirement with him. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for American Express)
Kenny Smith says Charles Barkley has not discussed retirement with him. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for American Express)

Charles Barkley announced on June 15 that he plans to retire from broadcasting after the 2024-25 NBA season.

This arrived as news to Kenny Smith.

Smith, Barkley's longtime co-host on TNT's "Inside the NBA," addressed his broadcast partner's announcement Monday night for the first time in public. He's doesn't sound 100% convinced that Barkley's actually retiring. At a minimum, he sounds perturbed that Barkley didn't inform him or his fellow co-hosts Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal about his decision.

Smith broached the topic while speaking at a New York event promoting Australia's NBL ahead of Wednesday's NBA draft. Smith is a partner with the league and has a pending future ownership stake.

"I'm Kenny 'The Jet' Smith," Smith said. "I'm not retiring."

(pause for laughter)

"How do you retire and don't call the people that you work with? I don't even know how. So we'll see. We'll see."

The NBL was the official business at hand Monday night. But Smith made a point to interject the Barkley reference as he introduced Alex Sarr, an NBL alum and projected lottery pick in Wednesday's NBA Draft.

It's the first time any of Barkley's co-hosts have addressed his retirement announcement that he dropped without notice on NBATV following Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Barkley's statement sounded definitive.

"There's been a lot of noise around our network the last few months," Barkley said. "I just want to say, I talked to all the other networks, but I ain't going nowhere other than TNT. But I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television.

"I just want to say thank you to my NBA family. You guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude, but I'm going to pass the baton at the end of next year. I hope the NBA stays with TNT ... I'm not going to another network, but I'm going to pass the baton to Jamal Crawford or Vince Carter or you Steve [Smith], but next year, I'm just going to retire after 25 years."

Barkley's tune has changed on multiple occasions amid broadcast negotiations that have so far left TNT on the outside of the NBA's next rights deal, slated to start with the 2025-56 season. Barkley previously floated becoming a "free agent" if TNT doesn't reach deal and later suggested that his own production company could take over "Inside the NBA," a beloved institution among the NBA and its fans.

Now he says he's done in 2025. But he's changed his mind before. And a lot can happen between now and the end of the next NBA season.