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Barkley Again Critical Of Kobe

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 27, 2013 at 03:42 AM

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NEW YORK - Charles Barkley is calling out Kobe Bryant again for dogging it.

Barkley criticized Bryant on Monday for the way he asked the Lakers to trade him, then for not appearing to give his full effort since owner Jerry Buss said he would consider a deal.

So when Barkley goes on the air tonight for TNT's season-opening doubleheader, he will probably have some strong words about Bryant for the second time in three years. He said Phil Jackson's questioning of Bryant's effort over the weekend was the 'final straw.'

'What Phil Jackson said Sunday, that was like they're at the point of no return now. There's a point where you know you can make a marriage work, but what Phil Jackson said Sunday, that was the end of it,' Barkley said at a luncheon with fellow studio analyst Kenny Smith.

'That's the one thing I respect most about Kevin Garnett. Even though he played on terrible teams, there is not a player in the last 10 years who played harder than Kevin Garnett. And that's the one thing that disappoints me. Phil said that Kobe's just going through the motions. ... And if your coach tells you you're just going through the motions, that's pretty much the end of the straw.'

Barkley called Bryant 'selfish' after Game 7 of the Lakers' first-round playoff loss to Phoenix in 2006, after Bryant took just three shots and scored only one point in the second half while the Suns pulled away. Bryant told Barkley he was upset in some text message responses, then made a guest appearance on TNT's coverage later in the playoffs to discuss the matter with Barkley on the air.

TNT will show the Lakers' opener against Houston tonight after televising NBA champion San Antonio's game against Portland in the opener.

Raptors Pick Up Option On Graham

TORONTO - Toronto forward Joey Graham will stay through the 2008-09 season after the Raptors exercised their fourth-year option on the former Brandon High star.

'I think Joey's earned it, he's gotten better every year,' coach Sam Mitchell said. 'He's a guy you definitely want to keep on your roster.'

The team had until Wednesday to exercise its option on Graham, who is making just under $1.6 million this season. He will earn about $2.4 million next season. Graham has averaged 6.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in two seasons with Toronto.

Mitchell said Graham was impressive toward the end of last season, when he stepped up in place of injured Jorge Garbajosa.

HEAT: Penny Hardaway is officially back in the NBA after Miami placed him on its season-opening roster.

Hardaway signed a nonguaranteed contract this summer after a strong tryout. He hasn't played in a regular-season game in nearly two years because of knee problems and has been limited for several seasons by an array of injuries.

ROCKETS: Former Florida State star Bob Sura and fellow guard John Lucas III were among four players cut. Forwards Jackie Butler and Justin Reed also were released.

The 6-foot-5 Sura has been plagued by back and knee injuries almost since the day he signed with Houston in 2004. He missed the 2005-06 season after arthroscopic knee surgery. Two months later, he had surgery to fix a herniated disk in his back.

TRADES: The New Jersey Nets opened two roster spots, trading swingman Bernard Robinson, center Mile Ilic and cash considerations to the New Orleans Hornets for veteran guard David Wesley.

The Nets have told Wesley not to report and the team will eat the guaranteed portion of his $1.75 million contract, General Manager Ed Stefanski said. The team will waive Wesley at some point, he added.

•San Antonio sent Beno Udrih to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a protected second-round draft pick in 2008.

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