Simmons, who wrote the best-selling, “Book of Basketball,” would add punch to a show that is routinely compared to TNT’s considerably more popular and successful Inside the NBA. ESPN has been searching for the right combination on Countdown for years – it used to be called NBA Shootaround – and the network believes Simmons is the missing piece.
The show used to be set in Bristol, Connecticut, but was moved to Los Angeles last season. Simmons is based on the West Coast. Sources say ESPN tried to get Simmons to do the show last year, but he passed because Grantland was just getting off the ground. In addition, two ABC/ESPN NBA production personnel, Bob Rauscher and Mark Summer, have been re-assigned to a different sport.
Simmons didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
Will everyone in the cast – which includes Mike Wilbon, Jon Barry, Magic Johnson and Chris Broussard – be on board with the move? We’re hearing Simmons would replace Chris Broussard on the set. Broussard would then be re-assigned into an unspecified role, perhaps as a “news” guy. Wilbon and Simmons have co-hosted PTI and are friendly, but what will Magic Johnson think? The Lakers/Celtics friction between Magic and Simmons could make for great television.