ESPN all-women's Oct 22, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; ESPN broadcasters Doris Burke (left) and Ryan Ruocco during the NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The much-discussed revamping of the top ESPN/ABC NBA team this summer, with Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson out and Doris Burke and Doc Rivers in alongside returning play-by-play voice Mike Breen, didn’t even last a season. On Wednesday, Rivers’ exit for the Milwaukee Bucks’ newly-open head coaching job was reported by multiple insiders, including TNT/Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes:

That move came after a very strange reporting cycle, including an Adrian Wojnarowski/Shams Charania dispute Tuesday afternoon on if the Bucks had talked to Rivers’ team yet or not, a “CNN Sports” report initially relayed on NBA TV and TNT and later disputed by TNT’s Haynes and everyone else. But it’s done now, prompting some looks back at this particular analysis stint from Rivers.

The even more important question is what ESPN and ABC do on that lead team going forward, though. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reported Wednesday that it looks like they’ll stick with just Breen and Burke for now rather than replacing Rivers:

Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald added to that talk, but noted there’s a possibility ESPN could add Richard Jefferson or JJ Redick to Breen and Burke for conference finals and NBA Finals coverage:

And Andrew Marchand of The New York Post had similar thoughts in a piece Tuesday on Rivers’ exit (which was only a possibility at that point):

With Rivers potentially out and Van Gundy and Jackson fired, ESPN has Breen and Doris Burke as its lead NBA team.

Executives could stick with that duo for this year’s Finals. Burke will become the first woman even to be a TV analyst on a major sports championship.

If ESPN promoted an analyst to join Breen and Burke, JJ Redick and Richard Jefferson would be the top candidates.

Marchand also passed along a statement from ESPN executive David Roberts Wednesday:

We’ll see exactly what ESPN decides. But they’re certainly in an interesting position with that much-discussed new team not even making it intact through a season. And, weirdly, they had hoped that move would provide stability, as Marchand wrote Tuesday:

It would be stinging for the network because one of the reasons ESPN, according to sources, let go of its longtime analysts, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, was because of their desire to coach again. Van Gundy, Jackson and play-by-player Mike Breen called 15 NBA Finals together. Van Gundy called a record 17 NBA Finals. While they interviewed for coaching jobs, they never left.

Upon hiring Rivers, ESPN executives stressed to him that they didn’t want the network to be a waiting room until he took his next coaching job.

Well, it certainly wound up being a waiting room for Rivers. And one he was only in for a few months. We’ll see just how they replace him, whether that’s with the two-man team of Breen and Burke or with a third analyst coming in.

[Michael McCarthy on Twitter/X]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.