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ESPN’s restructuring of its NBA staff was reportedly a calculated move by the network as they shift toward coverage built around Yahoo Sports! reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, per For the Win:

“But four people with knowledge of the situation reiterated to For The Win that those NBA cuts were “different.” The NBA cuts, which had little to do with the TV side of the operation, were the direct result of a bigger plan to bring in Yahoo star reporter Adrian Wojnarowski and some members of his team at The Vertical.”

Top NBA breaking news reporter Marc Stein had been with ESPN as a writer for 17 years, and he had evolved into one of the sports’ top breaking news reporters before he was let go. The complete gutting of ESPN’s NBA coverage included other big NBA writers like Henry Abbott, Ethan Strauss, Justin Verrier, and Calvin Watkins.

Considering all of the talent that ESPN has lost over the last year or so, this would be the equivalent of a massive coup.

Wojnarowski has emerged over the past few years as the premier breaking news reporter in the NBA. From trades, to signings, to draft picks, “Woj” has generally beaten every other reporter to the punch in order to break the news first.

Deadspin also reported that Wojnarowski could be taking some of the writers from his Vertical platform with him to ESPN. If true, it would be an enormous blow to Yahoo’s sports operation, and an interesting gain for ESPN’s NBA coverage.

Wojnarowski is expected to begin at ESPN on July 1, the start of NBA free agency, per USA Today. Recode first reported the hiring.

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