Barkley's statement is a bold one, as many people believe the Nets are a team on the rise, but not yet ready to compete at a championship level.
“I think they are the best team in New York,” Barkley told New York Daily News reporter Bernie Augustine, referring to the Nets.
Barkley also praised the Nets offseason acquisition of shooting guard Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks.
Johnson, who frequently struggled to meet the lofty expectations of his contract in Atlanta, has the chance to flourish in a Nets backcourt also featuring All-Star Deron Williams.
Both the Nets and Knicks were active in the offseason, adding significant pieces to their roster. For the Knicks the hope is to make a deeper run in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and for the Nets the hope is to get back there.
The Nets made their biggest splash by resigning Deron Williams and forward Gerald Wallace. They also acquired Joe Johnson and Reggie Evans via trade and signed veterans CJ Watson, Jerry Stackhouse and Josh Childress.
The Knicks were also busy adding veterans Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and Ronnie Brewer to their backcourt and bringing back Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas to aid on the frontcourt.
Key to the Knicks success however will be finding a way for forwards Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudamire to play together.
The two are obviously very talented individual players, but struggled last season to find a rhythm on the court together. The team overall also had difficulties with shutting down opposing teams on the offensive end.
That is something that will be easier said than done according to Barkley.
“They’re both very good offensive players," Barkley said. "But I don’t think all of a sudden they’re going to become great rebounders and great defenders."
The Nets and Knicks will have an immediate opportunity to set the tone of this debate. They meet in the Nets Inaugural Brooklyn game at the Barclay's Center on November 1st to open their season.