FRISCO -- Charles Barkley said he was somewhat surprised that the Dallas Mavericks broke up their 2011 NBA championship team last offseason and didn't give the returning players a fair shot at repeating as champions.
"I thought they should have kept Tyson Chandler,'' Barkley said Saturday at Dirk Nowitzki's charity baseball game. "I think he's in his prime and really made them a really big team -- tough, with Dirk and Tyson down low.''
Asked why the Mavs were able to control LeBron James in last year's NBA Finals, Barkley didn't mince words.
"They played a lot more zone,'' he said. "But also, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, those guys made the Mavs a much bigger team.
"Miami's got a really small team and those guys clogged up the lane.''
With Dallas squarely in the hunt for free agent point guard Deron Williams, Barkley isn't so sure the Brooklyn Nets' superstar is the answer to all what ails the Mavs.
"It won't put them obviously in a good situation (if the Mavs don't get Williams), but if they get Deron they've got to get bigger, too,'' Barkley said. "That was the difference last year when they had Tyson and DeShawn Stevenson -- they were much bigger.
"The reason they lost to the Heat (in the 2006 Finals), they were too small and too finesse. But if they get Deron, will they be better? Yeah, they'll be better, but I'm not sure they can beat the bigger teams out West.''
Besides the breakup of last year's Mavs, Barkley has grown tired of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard flip-flopping on where he wants to play next season. And he believes Howard, who now wants to get traded to Brooklyn, is trying to align himself with Williams.
"Dwight needs to make a decision because I'm sick of hearing about it every year where he's going to go,'' Barkley said. "I told him he needs to grow up and make a decision.
"I don't want to hear this stuff every year coming up on the trade deadline. Make a decision and live with it. Obviously (the Nets are) alive with the Dwight Howard situation, so you've just got to sit back and wait.''
In the meantime, Barkley discussed how it was a no-brainer for him to pick Miami to defeat Oklahoma City in the most recent NBA Finals, which the Heat won in five games.
"That was an easy pick, too,'' Barkley said. "The only way you're going to beat the Miami Heat is beat them up inside. That's why y'all beat them last year.
"You can't beat them on the perimeter. Oklahoma City don't have any big guys who can score.''
And that, Barkley insists, was the Thunder's undoing.
"You're not going to beat Miami on the perimeter because of LeBron,'' Barkley said. "You're going to have to beat them up physically inside, and Oklahoma City didn't have anybody who can score (inside).''
Despite picking the Heat over the Thunder, Barkley is no fan of the super teams -- where players like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James unite to win a title.
"I like for competitive balance from the fan's standpoint,'' Barkley said. "You don't want to be like baseball where you've got five legitimate teams and the rest stinks. I don't want that in basketball.
"I think commissioner (David) Stern did a lot of good things in the collective bargaining agreement to try to make it a more level playing field. But it's going to be interesting, because they're in trouble in Oklahoma City because I don''t think they can pay all of those guys.''
As far as that Father Time comment he made earlier this year when he said Nowitzki was losing his superstar talent, Barkley didn't back down Saturday. Even with Nowitzki sitting about four seats from him.
"I know what I watch when I watch basketball,'' Barkley said. "Dirk's been a helluva player, but he's obviously on the down side of his career.
"First of all you don't get better as you get older. I don't if he's got some special German blood. Maybe they do get younger as they get older over there.''
-- Dwain Price
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