Stephen A. Smith is in ESPN’s plans for NBA studio coverage this upcoming season, The Big Lead has learned from multiple people with knowledge of the situation. An ESPN spokesperson declined to comment on the news.
Our sources indicate that Wednesday night is the most likely time for him to be involved, but cautioned that plans are not yet set in stone.
Wednesday nights are going to be a little different this NBA season, in the sense that a number of doubleheaders on ESPN are getting adjusted to earlier tip times, from 8:00 pm ET to 7:00 or 7:30. (This will also be the case on many TNT weeknight doubleheaders.)
The likely scenario involves there being no episode of NBA Countdown on Wednesday nights in which the tip time is 7:00 pm, but there still needs to be a studio crew during halftimes of the doubleheader and perhaps as a brief bridge after 6pm SportsCenter.
On occasions where the game tips at 7:30 pm, it is very conceivable that Smith could fill the half-hour gap after SportsCenter. Whether this would be called Countdown or something else is to be determined. He hosted prominent SportsCenter programs during these past NBA playoffs.
Richard Deitsch reported last week Michelle Beadle would not continue on the show as host and be replaced by Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor. How all of the rest of the details shake out remains to be seen.