There are some big changes coming to ESPN next season in terms of their NBA coverage. Last week, news dropped that the Worldwide Leader would shake up the roster over at NBA Countdown, replacing Michelle Beadle with Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor, who will apparently divide hosting duties. Nichols will still host The Jump.
With that rumor came word that Chauncey Billups would transition to a game analyst on a more regular basis — including a gig calling games for the Clippers — while Jalen Rose would keep his spot on the Countdown dais, making him the last remaining figure of the previous crew. It remains uncertain what role Paul Pierce will assume moving forward.
What is clear, however, is that Stephen A. Smith is in line to play a more prominent role next season, although the network hasn’t clarified whether he will join the Countdown crew for their weekly game coverage or in some other capacity.
Stephen A. Smith is in ESPN’s plans for NBA studio coverage this upcoming season, The Big Lead has learned from multiple people with knowledge of the situation. An ESPN spokesperson declined to comment on the news.
Our sources indicate that Wednesday night is the most likely time for him to be involved, but cautioned that plans are not yet set in stone.
Wednesday nights are going to be a little different this NBA season, in the sense that a number of doubleheaders on ESPN are getting adjusted to earlier tip times, from 8:00 pm ET to 7:00 or 7:30. (This will also be the case on many TNT weeknight doubleheaders.)
Smith, the current co-host of First Take, has gained fame through his comically melodramatic approach and would certainly add a different energy to the NBA coverage. Just the opportunity to watch him blow a gasket covering Knicks games would be worth the price of admission all by itself, so fingers crossed that the network can make this happen.
(Via The Big Lead)