Rachel Nichols, Maria Taylor To Be Named "NBA Countdown" Hosts
ESPN is "planning to name" Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor as the "hosts of NBA Countdown for this upcoming season," replacing current host Michelle Beadle, according to The Athletic's Richard Deitsch. Sources said that the expectation is that "both will host the show," splitting the assignment "in some manner." Nichols will continue as host of "The Jump." Meanwhile, Chauncey Billups will "move from studio to work as a game analyst," while Jalen Rose "will be back" on "NBA Countdown." Sports By Brooks in June first reported that Beadle and Billups would not return to the show and that Nichols and Taylor were being considered (TWITTER.com, 8/16). In N.Y., Andrew Marchand cited a source as saying that ESPN is "still figuring out how to make the platoon hosting setup work." Taylor is a "huge part of ESPN's college football coverage, while Nichols is already omnipresent on ESPN's NBA shows." Sources said that Taylor "wanted to do more NBA" and Nichols had been "fighting to get the lead role on her own." Meanwhile, sources said that Billups is "leaving 'Countdown' to be a TV game analyst" for the Clippers. Billups will "continue at ESPN, too, but he will shift to games." Paul Pierce is "not expected to remain on 'Countdown.'" Jay Williams and Richard Jefferson are "prime candidates to land on 'Countdown'" (N.Y. POST, 8/17).
JOINING THE CLIPPERS' SHIP: In L.A., Andrew Greif reported Billups confirmed that he "will work as an analyst along play-by-play broadcaster Brian Sieman" on Clippers broadcasts on Prime Ticket/FS West. He did not indicate "how many games he will call." Sources said that there is a "strong possibility that the analyst role on Clippers broadcasts will rotate among a handful of people." That would be similar to the set-up the Clippers used last season for Ralph Lawler's farewell (L.A. TIMES, 8/17).