Big changes are coming to ESPN’s flagship basketball show.
ESPN is planning to replace on “NBA Countdown” host Michelle Beadle with a pairing of Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor, according to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch.
ESPN news: ESPN is planning to name Rachel Nichols & Maria Taylor as the hosts of NBA Countdown for this upcoming season. Formal announcement should come in coming weeks. The expectation, via sources, is both will host the show. They'll split the assignment in some manner.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) August 16, 2019
Per Deitsch, Nichols will still host “The Jump,” her daily basketball analysis show with a rotating stable of co-hosts.
Jalen Rose is also reportedly set to return as an analyst, but he won’t be joined by Chauncey Billups or Paul Pierce. Billups is set to work as a game analyst next season while Pierce, well, maybe it’s for his own good.
That leaves two studio analyst spots open, and a bevy of former players who could replace Billups and Pierce.
Michelle Beadle out at ESPN?
As Nichols and Taylor continue to rise at ESPN, their ascent comes at the expense of Beadle, who might suddenly be out of a roster spot during her second stint with the network.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post attributed Beadle’s ouster to a supposed lack of commitment, which is apparently not the best look under new ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro:
As ESPN gets back to basics under relatively new network president Jimmy Pitaro, it means its NBA coverage is more like 24/7/365 scoopmeister Adrian Wojnarowski than it is like punching-the-clock host Michelle Beadle.
That is the main reason Beadle no longer fits in at ESPN. Even at $5 million a year, she has no significant place on its air because she wasn’t all-in.
Deitsch reports that while Beadle is still “well-liked,” it’s a question if her next opportunity for a major on-air job comes on ESPN. Former ESPN president John Skipper lured Beadle back in 2014 after a less-than-successful stint at NBC Sports, eventually installing her on “NBA Countdown” in 2016 then the “Get Up!” morning show with Rose and Mike Greenberg in 2018.
Beadle’s run on “Get Up! would end months later, and now her “NBA Countdown” tenure is over as well. Could her second ESPN tenure be next?
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