Magic Johnson may be making the jump to ESPN full time.
At least, that’s apparently what Stephen A. Smith wants.
Smith, ESPN’s highest-paid television personality and arguably the face of the network, is hoping to team up with Johnson on “NBA Countdown” and elsewhere on ESPN, according to The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand.
The “Dream Team” would also include “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon.
While this is the “ideal setup” for Smith, per Marchand, nothing has been finalized yet.
Johnson last served as the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers before he suddenly resigned in 2019. The Hall of Famer has made appearances on ESPN’s studio shows in recent years.
The network is also reportedly interested in bringing in Draymond Green, though the options to do so are limited as Green is still playing for the Golden State Warriors.
ESPN revamping NBA programming after Rachel Nichols situation
The news that Smith wants Johnson comes amid a turbulent time for ESPN — and its NBA coverage specifically.
ESPN canceled “The Jump” on Wednesday and is removing longtime reporter and host Rachel Nichols from all NBA programming. That decision came after fallout over comments she made about former ESPN colleague Maria Taylor during the 2020 NBA bubble, when Nichols suggested in a private conversation that Taylor, who is Black, only rose to her position at the network due to a diversity effort.
It’s unclear where Nichols will end up. Taylor has since left ESPN for NBC Sports.
ESPN is working to produce a new afternoon NBA show to replace “The Jump” for next season.
Smith’s “First Take” co-host Max Kellerman is moving from the show to ESPN Radio’s marquee morning show, too. That could open the door for Johnson and others to appear on “First Take” with Smith.
While there’s still a lot that needs to fall into place, a “dream team” of Johnson, Smith and Wilbon would certainly draw plenty of eyes regardless of how it’s set up.