Storyline: Media Hirings

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Charania, just 24, will be deciding on a new home soon. Just a year out of college, Charania has made a name for himself by challenging Wojnarowski, now at ESPN, on the NBA transaction beat. Charania will be bringing his more than 360,000 Twitter followers to a new destination soon. He has had talks with ESPN, though the network has a large stable of NBA insiders, including Ramona Shelburne, Chris Haynes and Dave McMenamin, among others, so a fit seems unlikely. NBC Sports Regional Networks and The Athletic are two known places with interest. Yahoo, according to one source, is looking to replace Charania, so, memo to NBA insiders: Send your résumés.

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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. […] 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.

Jeff Goodman is leaving ESPN and joining the upstart Stadium, The Big Lead has learned from a person with direct knowledge of the news. Unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter, the person requested anonymity. Goodman and an ESPN spokesperson declined to comment. Goodman has signed a multi-year deal with Stadium, which started as a streaming platform and is making a big financial commitment toward an editorial push. Former ESPN college football reporter Brett McMurphy will also be joining Stadium, as Richard Deitsch reported in late April.

Marking FloSports’ entry into the NBA, Thorpe will lead the development of in-depth written content, which challenges the way fans see the sport. He will provide premium NBA content for the remainder of the 2018 season and postseason. Thorpe joins FloHoops with 30 years of experience in basketball as an esteemed and widely recognized NBA analyst and published author. Starting his career as an inner-city high school coach in the late 1980s, Thorpe progressed to training more than 75 NBA players, including All-Stars, lottery picks, and record setters, as well as more than 100 professional players in Europe.

Jon Krawczynski: I have joined The Athletic after 16 tremendous years at The Associated Press. This introductory piece is not going to be about me, but about you. Namely, what kind of coverage you can expect now that I have joined the incomparable Michael Russo on the staff here in Minnesota. I am the Senior Writer focusing primarily on the Timberwolves/NBA and Vikings. Those familiar with my work understand how passionate I am about covering the NBA in general and the Timberwolves in particular, and that will only increase as I move to my new home here at The Athletic. One of the things I am most looking forward to is teaming with Britt Robson to provide top-shelf coverage of a team that seems poised for a breakthrough season.

After failed turnaround efforts and a lengthy sales process, Yahoo announced it had sold to Verizon in July 2016 (the deal didn’t close until this past summer). With three years left on his deal, it’s believed that Wojnarowski had a clause in his contract that afforded him the opportunity to exit his deal if Yahoo’s ownership situation were to change. With the continued uncertainty about Yahoo’s direction going forward and the less than perfect launch of The Vertical, Wojnarowski opted to explore an exit from Yahoo and targeted ESPN as the only landing spot worth engaging with.

Uniformly, everyone I spoke to with knowledge of the courtship between ESPN and Woj denied any requests regarding NBA staffing, nor was Woj informed about ESPN’s NBA staffing plans. A source close the situation firmly stated “It’s simply not true” in regards to the conjecture that Woj was directly involved in any layoffs on the NBA side. ESPN PR declined to comment which is somewhat consistent on the matter as they’ve generally refrained from commenting on anything specific pertaining to the layoff round.

Tim Kawakami: Bob Myers sees this. I had a conversation with Bob about this kind of randomly and he sees this. Don’t want to throw his name out there, but it’s safe to say that he would be fine with that. Sees what the future is. Sees what this is. And some newspaper reporters I’ve talked to, just a few, don’t see it. Think they’re going to be protected forever; this is the way they’ve made a living and they always will. I don’t come to the same conclusion. People on internet sites who’ve made the jump absolutely see this. It’s not like this is a guarantee. It’s not a guarantee. But newspapers are far from a guarantee right now.

Chauncey Billups has signed a new multiyear deal with ESPN, continuing his expanded role as an NBA analyst, the network announced Friday. Billups, a Denver native and the 2004 NBA Finals MVP, has worked as analyst at ESPN since the 2014-15 season, when he was used primarily to provide analysis on “SportsCenter” and other programs throughout the network. He joined “NBA Countdown” for Wednesday night broadcasts during the 2015-16, and this season he became a full-time “NBA Countdown” analyst, working on the network’s lead team alongside host Michelle Beadle and fellow analyst Jalen Rose.

Whatever his eventual role, it might just be semantics. Those within ESPN—and multiple reporters outside of ESPN—expect that Wojnarowski will bring most The Vertical staffers along with him. ESPN may even be buying The Vertical outright. (Yahoo and ESPN declined to comment.) Wojnarowski might be just a reporter, but his presence looms large behind the decisions ESPN is making, and some ESPNers believe Yahoo editor Johnny Ludden will take Abbott’s role in running ESPN.com’s NBA coverage.

Woj to begin working for ESPN at the NBA draft?

Last week, ESPN cut some of its reporters and on-air personnel. But the sports programmer is also hiring: It has finalized a deal to hire Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo’s star NBA reporter. Sources familiar with ESPN’s plan say Wojnarowski will begin working for ESPN in time to cover the June 22 NBA draft. I’m told the network also intends to bring aboard some of the staff of The Vertical, the NBA site Wojnarowski launched for Yahoo 2016.
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