Barkley chastises LeBron for free-agency discussion; King James responds

Updated: November 29, 2008, 10:35 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The topic of LeBron James' still-two-years-from-now free agency, which hit a crescendo this week upon the Cleveland Cavaliers' visit to New York to play the Knicks, left one opinionated Hall of Famer pleading for James to drop the subject.

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Charles Barkley, in an interview on "Dan Patrick Radio," said James has no business talking about a future with another team while he's a Cavalier.

"If I was LeBron James, I would shut the hell up," Barkley said in the Wednesday interview. "I'm a big LeBron fan. He's a stud. You gotta give him his props. I'm getting so annoyed he's talking about what he's going to do in two years. I think it's disrespectful to the game. I think it's disrespectful to the Cavaliers."

James, however, felt differently.

"He's stupid. That's all I've got to say about that," James said Friday night before the Cavaliers' game against Golden State.

James has three seasons left on a four-year contract extension he signed in 2006; the contract took effect in 2007 and includes a player option for the fourth season. If James declines the player option, he will become a free agent in 2010.

The Knicks are one example of teams attempting to clear out salary-cap space for a star-studded free-agent class in 2010. James said this week he wouldn't hesitate to leave Cleveland if another franchise offers him a better chance to win multiple NBA titles.

"I think you do what is best for you and you do what is best for your career," James said Tuesday when asked about his sense of loyalty to the Cavs.

Barkley, a popular studio analyst on TNT's NBA broadcasts, likened James' actions to him going on the network and saying he can't wait to go to ESPN in two years.

Barkley also said playing in New York wouldn't make a difference for James, adding James would be no more of a superstar, and with no more marketing appeal, whether he was playing in Cleveland, Sacramento or Tokyo.

While admitting it has been difficult avoiding all reports about his free agency, the 23-year-old James said he remains attentive on the here and now.

"I am focused on the team that I am on right now and winning a championship," he said. "So it gets funny at times, but I don't think about making a change at this point. I am focusing on the team I have here and the relationship I have with the Cavs."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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