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Charles Barkley: LeBron James only has two options, Phoenix Suns aren’t one

LISTEN: Charles Barkley, NBA Hall of Famer & insider

There’s excitement in the hot Valley air at the start of the NBA’s annual free agency period.

The Phoenix Suns are armed with salary cap space and a visionary general manager hell-bent on returning the franchise to their winning ways.

Monday night, a report circulated that superstar LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul, will meet with the Suns’ contingent headed up by Ryan McDonough. Although LeBron himself won’t attend the meeting, at least Phoenix has a foot in the door.

However, maybe the most famous player ever to wear the purple and orange doesn’t think James will take his talents to the southwest.

Basketball Hall of Famer and former Suns great Charles Barkley thinks James is handcuffed concerning a decision about his future, and that doesn’t bode well for Phoenix.

“He’s not coming (to Phoenix),” Barkley told Doug and Wolf Tuesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I think LeBron is in an awkward situation. I only think he can do two things, to be honest with you, because it’s going to look bad if he goes to another team and tries to bring all the stars with him.

“I think he’s either got to stay in Miami or go back to Cleveland. If he goes to another team and tries to bring all the stars, older guys like myself and probably most NBA fans will say ‘this guy don’t want to compete and win a championship, he wants to manipulate the system.’ In my personal opinion, he’s either got to stay in Miami or go back to Cleveland and try to build a winner.”

Barkley then railed on the current landscape in the NBA, where despite rules being changed to curb it, many franchises are exploring the possibility of building ‘super teams’ like James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did with the Heat in 2010.

“I’d never heard of this crap that these players do today where they get together and try to form ‘super teams.’ Sports are about competition,” he said. “When I got traded to Phoenix, I didn’t say to myself ‘let me call Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.’ I just said ‘put me on a team where I’ve got some help and I want to compete against those guys.’

“And I was happy with the way things turned out. We lost to the Bulls in the Finals and we lost to the Rockets my last two years in Phoenix in seven games when they won championships. I can live with that. But I never called another superstar and tried to band with him.”