Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
With the news now out that NBA “super-reporter” Adrian Wojnarowski and his crew from The Vertical are headed to ESPN, here are five key questions I haven’t seen addressed anywhere yet:
1- Will he live-Tweet NBA Draft picks beginning in 2018?
Woj Tweeted Monday that he and the “whole gang” at The Vertical will be doing their NBA Draft show again on June 22.
As anyone who follows the NBA knows, Woj is famous for live-Tweeting NBA Draft picks before they happen, or just as they happen, something we can expect again this year. ESPN, however, has a strict policy against this — and enforces it on its NFL and NBA reporters.
So what happens when Woj is at ESPN for the 2018 Draft and beyond?
“I don’t care about anybody’s television show,” Wojnarowski told the New York Times in 2015. “My job is to report and break news when I have the news, and who a team is drafting is news. The draft and the announcement is a ceremony. I don’t care about anybody’s ceremony. I don’t wait for things to be announced. I would never accept any edict not to report the news.” He added, “I see it as an extension of free agency and the trade deadline. If your information is accurate, you want to report it.”
2. What happens to ESPN’s Draft coverage this year and beyond?
ESPN will be in the strange position of competing with Woj for information surrounding this year’s NBA Draft, and could continue to get beaten like a drum for this cycle. Marc Stein, Ethan Strauss and draft guru Chad Ford were among the latest round of layoffs, so The Worldwide Leader will have a depleted roster for this NBA Draft (although Ford Tweeted he’s staying on through June). Going forward, will they incorporate DraftExpress.com, arguably the most respected mock draft site in the industry and now part of The Vertical, into their own coverage?
3. Will ESPN put Woj’s stuff behind a pay wall?
The good news for ESPN is that Woj is expected to be on board by July 1 when teams can begin negotiating with free agents. On July 9, teams can begin signing free agents. That means ESPN will have a ton of breaking news beginning then. Will they put that information behind a pay wall as they sometimes do with breaking news and recruiting information? If so, how will that impact their number of subscribers and financials going forward?
4. Who’s left to cover college hoops at ESPN?
Perhaps lost in the Woj news is the fact that ESPN basically cut loose many of the most respected college basketball personalities and writers in the business, including Andy Katz, Dana O’Neil, Eamonn Brennan and C.L. Brown. Where do they go from here on that front? Will they downplay their college hoops coverage, hire new reporters to fill the void, or go in some other direction?
5. How will Yahoo fill the Woj void?
With Woj and The Vertical team set to leave Yahoo Sports, what’s ahead for that outfit? Do they fold up their tent and just use wire coverage of the NBA and NBA Draft? Do they attempt to “replace” Woj by hiring some big names, such as some of the talent ESPN recently laid off? Or do they go young (read: cheap) and hire kids straight out of college or journalism school to aggregate and break news? Or will it be some combination of the above?
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.