The Nets may trail the Knicks in the standings, but Charles Barkley said he still thinks Brooklyn is the team better suited to handle a deep playoff run.

“I think that the Nets have a higher ceiling than this Knicks team,” Barkley said as the Nets sit three games behind the Knicks in the Atlantic Division. “Carmelo [Anthony] is the best player out there, but when the season started I thought the Nets would have a better winning percentage.

“I’m a little disappointed so far, but they’re playing a lot better under [interim coach P.J. Carlesimo], but I still think they’ve got a better playoff team. I think they’re going to have a better run in the playoffs than the Knicks.”

Despite Barkley’s declaration, which came on a TNT conference call ahead of next week’s All-Star Game in Houston, he and fellow analysts Kenny Smith and Steve Smith had their fair share of criticism for the Nets.

When asked for his most disappointing players this season, Steve Smith chose the Nets’ backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, who Smith said haven’t dominated the way he expected them to at this point.

“When I looked at the best backcourts, I said at the beginning of the year that they would be the best backcourt in basketball,” Smith said. “[That’s] because Joe Johnson can run the point, Deron Williams can come off, you can post both guys. ... I thought they would play much better together. They are not the most disappointing players in the league, but what was most disappointing to me was to not see those guys together be able to just dominate.”

As an example, Smith alluded to Tuesday’s 92-83 loss to the Lakers, in which Williams and Johnson combined to go 9-for-28 from the field and score 26 points.

“Take the Lakers game,” Smith said. “Steve Nash and Steve Blake were out on the floor [together]. I thought for sure big Deron Williams and a Joe Johnson [could] keep the game simple. [They] can both play a two-man game, and make other guys better by being able to post-up.

“I just haven’t seen those guys clicking together like I thought they would.”