Real Talk

Charles Barkley clears the air with Houston fans

Charles Barkley tells Barry Laminack (left) and Joel Blank (right) that he probably played two years too long. Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for American Express

Charles Barkley joins Joel Blank and Barry Laminack on The Usual Suspects on ESPN 97.5 and talks about the Rockets’ performance in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. Charles also goes on to say the Rockets have more depth and overall talent than the Warriors. He is very impressed with the offensive explosion the Rockets got out of their role players, and he believes Houston has played most of the year like they did in Game 2. He also gives James Harden some high praise when he mentions his name with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Later, Joel gets Charles to admit that his dogs take private flights a couple times of year, so they don’t have to deal with the commercial “riff-raff.” And finally, Chuck talks about some of his regrets and how he should have retired a couple years sooner because his body was breaking down. He wishes the fans of Houston would have experienced more of his prime seasons. Make sure you check out the full fantastic interview here.

You can hear Joel Blank and Barry Laminack on The Usual Suspects weekdays from 1-4pm on ESPN 97.5 radio. You can listen live or on demand with the ESPN 97.5 radio app.

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Correa could be on his way out. Composite image by Jack Brame.

It has not been the best of times to be a star athlete in Houston. In the last year, Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins were solid off for a warm bucket of spit. George Springer won't be back. James Harden and Russell Westbrook rumors are rampant. J.J. Watt might be moving on as well.

Now, reports are the Astros are listening to offers for Carlos Correa.

Predictably, Astros fans are livid. And if it's true, they should be concerned about the bigger picture.

Trading Correa makes sense - if you have no plans on keeping him after next season, as was clearly the case with Springer. If the Astros can get a haul and replenish the farm system, it would be the right move, especially considering Correa's injury history.

But in the long run, it does not bode well for the direction of the team. All recent indications are that the Astros are going cheap.

They would still be a competitive team without Correa, but it would be yet another indication their World Series window has closed. Alex Bregman could slide over to shortstop, but who would play third? And they only have one starting outfielder on the roster as it is. Putting together a competitive lineup around Bregman, Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez would still be possible, but if the Astros aren't going to spend money, that could be problematic.

The writing was probably on the wall when the team hired James Click as GM from the notoriously frugal Tampa Bay organization. The good news is the Rays have been successful. But this is a new direction for a team that was not afraid to spend big money to make runs at the World Series.

If they lose Correa, they lose a team leader, one of the few players who embraced the villain role in the wake of the cheating controversy and was not afraid to speak out. But he has never lived up to his MVP potential, has battled injuries and will command big dollars on the open market. He is still young enough to become that kind of player, and someone will gamble big money that he will.

Sadly, if this rumor is true, it won't be the Astros.

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