Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor to replace Michelle Beadle on ESPN’s ‘NBA Countdown’

Jack Baer | Yahoo Sports

Big changes are coming to ESPN’s flagship basketball show.

ESPN is planning to replace on “NBA Countdown” host Michelle Beadle with a pairing of Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor, according to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch.

Per Deitsch, Nichols will still host “The Jump,” her daily basketball analysis show with a rotating stable of co-hosts.

Jalen Rose is also reportedly set to return as an analyst, but he won’t be joined by Chauncey Billups or Paul Pierce. Billups is set to work as a game analyst next season while Pierce, well, maybe it’s for his own good.

That leaves two studio analyst spots open, and a bevy of former players who could replace Billups and Pierce.

Michelle Beadle out at ESPN?

As Nichols and Taylor continue to rise at ESPN, their ascent comes at the expense of Beadle, who might suddenly be out of a roster spot during her second stint with the network.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post attributed Beadle’s ouster to a supposed lack of commitment, which is apparently not the best look under new ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro:

As ESPN gets back to basics under relatively new network president Jimmy Pitaro, it means its NBA coverage is more like 24/7/365 scoopmeister Adrian Wojnarowski than it is like punching-the-clock host Michelle Beadle.

That is the main reason Beadle no longer fits in at ESPN. Even at $5 million a year, she has no significant place on its air because she wasn’t all-in.

Deitsch reports that while Beadle is still “well-liked,” it’s a question if her next opportunity for a major on-air job comes on ESPN. Former ESPN president John Skipper lured Beadle back in 2014 after a less-than-successful stint at NBC Sports, eventually installing her on “NBA Countdown” in 2016 then the “Get Up!” morning show with Rose and Mike Greenberg in 2018.

Beadle’s run on “Get Up! would end months later, and now her “NBA Countdown” tenure is over as well. Could her second ESPN tenure be next?

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Kristaps Porzingis looks absolutely jacked in a recent workout photo

Andrew Joseph | USA TODAY SPORTS

We’re at the point in the NBA offseason where fans look for anything and everything to get excited about for the upcoming season. It’s going to be a long two months.

But I’m going to excuse the excitement over the latest workout photo from Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis because the dude looks more like Ivan Drago now than the scrawny 7-footer from Latvia drafted by the New York Knicks.

Seriously, this doesn’t look like the same guy.

Like, whoa.

Porzingis missed all of last season as he nursed an ACL injury, which obviously gave him plenty of time to focus on upper-body workouts. And the results are showing in a major way.

For reference, he used to look like this:

That’s a significant transformation.

The NBA really might not be ready for the Luka Doncic-Kristaps Porzingis duo, especially now that they’ve discovered weight rooms.

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