TNT’s broadcast teams may look very different in the 2021-22 season as rumors have swirled for some time that this will be Marv Albert’s last season, but word emerged on Wednesday that his partner in the booth, Chris Webber, may also be on the way out from Turner after this season.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Webber, like Albert, has his contract run up at the end of this season and the feeling has been “building” that he will depart the network as well.
As for Webber, he has been on TNT’s No. 1 team for a few seasons now, but has yet to fully connect with the audience. The feeling that Webber may not return has been building for a while.
It would be a major shakeup at TNT, with Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller likely moving up the ladder into the No. 1 spot, with veteran play-by-play announcers Brian Anderson and Ian Eagle splitting duties on the second unit and Tuesday nights amid their other obligations doing Brewers and Nets games, respectively. The more interesting question is who would step into the No. 2 analyst role.
Marchand notes that when Webber pulled out of the NCAA Tournament bubble (which he apparently did late, ruffling some feathers at Turner), Grant Hill’s performance in a two-man booth with Ian Eagle impressed inside the Turner building. Hill’s contract is likewise running up, but he’s been doing NBA TV broadcasts and some TNT games this year and would be a strong candidate. Jim Jackson has also become a terrific game analyst and is plenty deserving of the opportunity as well. With Tuesday and Thursday games, Turner also could look to bring in some new blood to their building and Marchand notes that Richard Jefferson’s deal with ESPN is up at the end of this year and his rise as a game analyst could make for an interesting bidding war between the two national NBA networks.
Webber’s tenure at TNT has been an interesting one. He was initially beloved but has steadily seen his approval drop among NBA fans as his long-winded stories that often seem to spiral off track have become a running joke for fans. His work in studio has always felt stronger than his work in the booth, evidenced by his powerful commentary after the NBA ceased play in the Bubble last year following police shooting Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. He has a great mind for basketball and when he’s succinct, as is required in the studio setting, he can be tremendous. The issues arise when he goes long on tangents and circles the point, seemingly trying to fill time.
Webber’s future in the NBA television space is unclear, but few NBA fans would be sad to see a shakeup of the top TNT booth given Webber’s approval and the acceptance from just about everyone that Albert has lost his fastball.