Bill Simmons leaving ESPN’s pre/post game NBA Countdown to start Grantland hoops show

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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.