As NBA free agency demonstrated, there’s only one reporter plugged in enough to compete with Adrian Wojnarowski for breaking news: Yahoo’s Shams Charania. Woj’s former mentee at Yahoo, Shams became the face of The Vertical when Woj departed for ESPN last summer.
According to Andrew Marchand in the New York Post, Charania is finishing up an expiring contract with Yahoo shortly, and the 23-year-old rising star is going to have an array of suitors.
So if Yahoo doesn’t retain Charania, where could he wind up? ESPN could basically end the NBA scoop game by reuniting Wojnarowski and Charania in Bristol. Besides Wojnarowski, ESPN already has a strong array of NBA reporters, including Ramona Shelburne.
Turner/NBA TV/Bleacher Report could try to make a bigger impact in terms of competing with ESPN. Charania worked on Turner’s team-centric Final Four telecast that included his alma mater, Loyola. The Athletic, the two-plus-year-old subscription site that has raised $20 million, could try to build an NBA vertical around Charania the way it has with Ken Rosenthal on baseball.
Another option, according to sources, is NBC Sports Regional Networks. NBC owns the rights to about a third of NBA local broadcasts, including the Celtics and Bulls. It is looking for a national insider to appear on its pre- and postgame local shows across the country. Besides Charania, NBC has shown interest in Yahoo’s Chris Mannix for the job. Mannix already does work for NBC.
Shams could stay at Yahoo too, though it feels like it could be hard to compete with outlets that offer massive television platforms and NBA rights. ESPN seems like the most likely outcome, for obvious reasons. Having Woj and Shams (along with other newsbreakers like Ramona Shelburne, Zach Lowe, Brian Windhorst, Chris Haynes, and more) would make ESPN even more of a one-stop shop for NBA news and analysis, with Woj, Shams, and more breaking the news before appearing on shows like The Jump to help break said news down.
Other outlets could obviously make sense, too, especially if they throw money around (hi, The Athletic!), or if Shams doesn’t want to work alongside Woj again (though that seems unlikely, and ESPN is obviously plenty big enough for multiple reporters.) And as Marchand notes, Yahoo is facing the loss of both Charania and Chris Mannix, which would be a big blow to The Vertical’s roster; maybe they’d be incentivized to do what it takes to keep at least one of those two reporters.
Whether or not ESPN is his eventual destination, the bidding war itself is yet another example of Charania’s rising star.