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July 18, 2023

JJ Redick, Doc Rivers in the running for ESPN's lead NBA broadcast team

Redick is the reported favorite to replace Jeff Van Gundy, but Rivers is also out there as a possibility.

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JJ-Redick-Sixers-Archive-Photo-2.8.2019-NBA.jpg Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Could we be hearing JJ Redick during the Sixers' national broadcasts this season?

A former fan-favorite sharpshooter and the Sixers' recently fired head coach appear to be in the running to replace Jeff Van Gundy on ESPN's top NBA broadcast team. 

Per Front Office Sports, JJ Redick, who has had an increasing media presence both on ESPN and through his podcast "The Old Man and the Three" after his 2021 retirement, is the leading candidate for the job, while Doc Rivers and Redick's fellow ESPN analysts Doris Burke and Richard Jefferson are also considered possibilities. 

The assumption is whoever wins out would be joining the returning combo of play-by-play man Mike Breen and color commentator Marc Jackson. However, Boston Globe columnist Chad Finn reported late Monday that there's a "good chance" the lineup could end up as Breen, Rivers, and Burke going into the 2023-24 season. 

All four reported/rumored candidates have their qualifications for the third seat at the broadcast table, but we're going to zero in on the two that have relatively recent ties to the Sixers. 

Redick, 39, signed in Philadelphia during the summer of 2017 in a clear move that – with a finally healthy Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons – it was time for The Process to lean fully into contention. He was a valuable veteran presence and a regular threat from three-point range, which helped push the Sixers to their first playoff appearance and playoff series win in six years. 

He became a fan-favorite and re-upped for another year, though left after 2019 in pursuit of longer term, which he ultimately got in a two-year deal with New Orleans before retiring after a short trade deadline stint with Dallas to end the 2020-21 campaign. 

In his post-playing career, Redick grew into an increasingly regular face across basketball media, releasing compelling and insightful interviews with the sport's biggest stars through "The Old Man and the Three," all while establishing himself as one of the more thoughtful and level-headed personalities across ESPN's many debate-formatted shows – which should all feed into the reasoning of why he would be a good fit on the network's top broadcast team. 

Rivers, meanwhile, was hired to be the Sixers' next coach coming out of the COVID-19 playoff bubble in 2020 with the mission of finally breaking them through that second-round wall. The team remained competitive through each passing regular season, Tyrese Maxey developed into an ever-rising star, and Joel Embiid finally captured NBA MVP under Rivers' tenure, but by the end, that second-round wall still stood as strong as ever and Rivers was fired after a soul-crushing seven-game defeat to Boston in back in May. 

A lot of the Sixers' shortcomings over the past couple of years, justified or not, were pinned on Rivers' coaching strategies and rotations. However, the 61-year old is a highly-knowledgeable basketball mind and does know how to articulate the game – take his appearance on the Bill Simmons Podcast last month breaking down what went wrong with his Sixers run as an example. 

He also has past experience calling the game's biggest moments and for ESPN's parent company, Disney, from when he was paired up with Al Michaels for ABC's coverage of the 2004 NBA Finals. 

Van Gundy was a fixture of ESPN's NBA coverage for years but was a casualty of the network's recent wave of layoffs.

Now there seems to be a decent chance that a former Sixer could be filling those admittedly big shoes.

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