ESPN’s overhaul of its NBA programming continues with changes to the network’s NBA Countdown pregame studio show.
According to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand (and the new Post Sports+ “Sports Clicker” newsletter), analyst Jay Williams will no longer be on the program. Williams, previously a college basketball analyst for ESPN, had been part of the studio team since 2019. But his role co-hosting ESPN Radio’s morning show (now with Max Kellerman and Keyshawn Johnson) spread him thin last season.
Williams’ replacement has yet to be chosen, but Marchand reports that Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon are the top candidates for the role. Magic Johnson, who’s previously had two stints as an NBA analyst with ESPN, is also being pursued by the network.
But NBA Countdown may be in search of two new analysts. Jalen Rose’s status on the show is also undetermined. His stint with the studio crew goes back to 2012. Will Adrian Wojnarowski remain as one of the program’s regular panelists or will he join the show in an insider role with rumors and reports?
Add that to the show also looking for a new host after Maria Taylor left for NBC and there’s a significant amount of upheaval for ESPN’s NBA coverage. While Mike Greenberg is reportedly a candidate to host the NBA Finals for the network, the host’s chair for regular-season and playoff pregame and halftime coverage is still open. Among the names mentioned by Marchand for that role are Michael Eaves and Elle Duncan, both of whom recently signed multi-year extensions with ESPN.
The reported changes to NBA Countdown follow ESPN’s initiative to overhaul its NBA coverage across the network. Malika Andrews will host NBA Today, the daily show replacing The Jump on the network’s midday schedule. Andrews takes over for Rachel Nichols, who was pulled off the air after controversial comments about her role and Maria Taylor’s were made public in July.
Since taking over as head of ESPN’s NBA production from Stephanie Druley in August, David Roberts has been revamping virtually every aspect of the network’s NBA programming. In addition to his NBA duties, Roberts also oversees production for ESPN’s daily programming, including Get Up, First Take, SportsCenter, Around the Horn, and Pardon the Interruption, in addition to audio and digital content.