ESPN continues to tinker and toy with it’s pre-game/in-game “NBA Countdown” show. The key move a couple years ago was to bring in online force of nature Bill Simmons, and that had its ups and downs. Simmons and Jalen Rose did some good stuff, but overall the show was nice. Not thrilling, but nice.
Now changes are coming. Simmons is leaving Countdown to focus on his own “The Grantland Basketball Show,” and hour-long NBA show that will air on ESPN supposed to be starting Oct. 21 and be on roughly every other week through the season, something the network announced Tuesday (but has since taken down the press release).
The Grantland show has potential, if it uses video and Zach Lowe a lot. There are a lot of great NBA writers and minds at Grantland that could be utilized. We’ll see how that goes.
As for Countdown, it’s not clear who will join host Sage Steele, Rose and former coach Doug Collins. Usually that spot has gone to more of a print/online journalist but I’m not sure Chris Broussard or Stephen A. Smith are great fits.
You know what Countdown’s biggest problem is? It’s not TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” It can’t live up to that, arguably the best sports studio show anywhere (ESPN’s College Gameday for football comes close). We all watch Inside the NBA, even if the game in front of it was a dud. Countdown can’t replicate the chemistry of Charles Barkley, Shaq, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson.
Joel Embiid on Monday will have an MRI on his injured left knee and is now listed as out indefinitely.
Embiid has been experiencing swelling and soreness in the left knee injury that has caused him to miss 16 out of the last 17 games. Bryan Colangelo announced back on Feb. 11 that Embiid has a minor meniscal tear. In his most recent press conference last Friday, Colangelo had targeted this Friday’s home game against the Knicks as a possibility for Embiid’s return. Now, that isn’t the case.
Embiid had been the biggest ray of hope for Philadelphia, but the 76ers shouldn’t chase watchability down the stretch. Sit Embiid until he’s fully healthy and secure the best draft position possible.
Maybe Embiid’s body just can’t handle the rigors of NBA basketball, but Philadelphia has no choice but to hope for the best with him and Simmons. And hope the nail the their first-round pick this year and get the Lakers’ first-rounder.
This could still be a dangerously good team in coming years. The Process created that potential.
But the threat of injury always looms around the corner, maybe especially so for Embiid.
Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah likely to miss rest of season after knee surgery
Prepare for the talk next fall about Noah feeling refreshed and ready to help the Knicks.
But this surgery won’t reverse the underlying problem: Noah is a 31-year-old big man with heavy mileage. He can manage his knees, but it’s probably too late for him to regain enough athleticism to reliably contribute.
Just three years and $55 million+ remaining on his contract, which already looked like the NBA’s worst deal and is now even more unfavorable.
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