ESPN has big plans for Ryan Ruocco, JJ Redick and Richard Jefferson to eventually lead the network’s NBA coverage.
Monday morning, ESPN officially announced the trio of Ruocco, Redick and Jefferson as their No. 2 NBA broadcast team. ESPN recently revamped its NBA coverage, placing Doc Rivers and Doris Burke alongside Mike Breen as their lead broadcast after making the surprising decision to move on from Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. Ruocco, Redick and Jefferson called regular season and playoff games for ESPN last season and appeared destined to be the network’s No. 2 booth this year, but they also might be destined to become the lead broadcast in the future.
During a Zoom call after announcing its coverage plans for the 2023-24 season, ESPN head of NBA and studio production, Dave Roberts, revealed the trio of Ruocco, Redick and Jefferson as the network’s succession plan. According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Roberts noted it might not happen for 10 years, but ESPN is ultimately planning to see Ruocco, Redick and Jefferson become their lead NBA broadcast team.
Breen is without question the sport’s best play-by-play voice, having called 18 straight NBA Finals while showing no signs of slowing down. At some point, however, the 61-year-old broadcaster will presumably look to lessen his workload as ESPN’s top NBA announcer and the lead voice of the New York Knicks. Maybe that date will be sooner than expected after ESPN got rid of his longtime broadcast partners Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, a decision Breen recently called “sad.”
Still, there’s no guarantee ESPN’s current succession plan comes to fruition; a lot can happen in ten years. No one thinks Rivers is done coaching in the NBA, which means ESPN’s new lead broadcast might eventually need a call-up. Similarly, Redick has admitted he has aspirations of coaching in the NBA, putting into question whether he’ll even be alongside Ruocco and Jefferson when ESPN ultimately decides to implement their succession plan.
The one thing that seems almost certain is that Ruocco will eventually succeed Breen. And with Roberts revealing that succession plan, Ruocco, who is ESPN’s lead WNBA voice and now their No. 2 announcer for NBA games, may have gained some leverage in his next contract negotiation.