What has been rumored for several weeks is now official: Bill Simmons will be joining ESPN's NBA Countdown pregame show next season. The Grantland editor-in-chief will join fellow newcomer Jalen Rose and holdovers Magic Johnson and Michael Wilbon on the revamped studio set, according to an ESPN press release.
Simmons and Rose replace Jon Barry and Chris Broussard as studio analysts. Barry will be used as an in-game color commentator going forward, while Broussard will remain the network's NBA insider on other shows and will sometimes serve as a sideline reporter during broadcasts. The new lineup will debut on November 2 prior to ESPN's first doubleheader of the season.
Earlier in the summer, it looked like former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy would join Simmons on the set instead of Rose. However, those discussions fell apart, and there are rumors that NBA commissioner David Stern, who has sparred with Van Gundy in the past, told ESPN not to hire Van Gundy. Van Gundy didn't exactly dispel those rumors in an appearance on Dan Le Batard's radio show in Miami earlier this month.