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Tim Legler is ESPN’s best JJ Redick replacement option

For the third time in a year, ESPN must consider what to do with its top NBA announcing team.

Instead of choosing a flashy name, the network should opt for Tim Legler, who works alongside respected play-by-play announcer Mike Breen and pioneer Doris Burke.

After firing Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson last summer, ESPN teamed Doc Rivers with Breen and Burke this season.

ESPN announcer Tim Legler before the 2015 NBA Christmas Day game. Peter DaSilva/ESPN Images

However, Rivers resigned as head coach of the Bucks midway through the season and was replaced by JJ Redick, who is now coach of the Lakers.

Frankly, I wouldn’t call either of this year’s exits a tragedy.

Earlier this week, Scott Van Pelt gave Legler a heartfelt send-off, saying their longtime collaboration on the late-night show “SportsCenter” may be coming to an end.

“NBA fans know he’s the best and we don’t want to lose you, but if we lose you because you’re out there, that’s OK because you’re not good at this, but you’re great at this,” Van Pelt told Legler. “Nobody talks basketball better than Tim Legler.”

That was widely interpreted as a sign that Legler might be leaving the agency, but sources told The Post that wasn’t necessarily the case.

Instead, Legler and ESPN are currently in talks about a new contract, a source said.

Legler will serve as a commentator for ESPN’s Summer League coverage, which begins in July.

Legler has wanted to work more games for years, but decision-makers at ESPN resisted increasing his on-field workload because Legler is such an invaluable presence in the studio, especially during games with Van Pelt.

But ESPN executives are open to the idea of ​​him calling more games, sources said.

An ESPN spokesman declined to comment.

Legler is a great fit for Breen and Burke because of his ability to succinctly convey the nuances of basketball and draw attention to what’s actually happening on the court, rather than to himself.

JJ Redick and Doris Burke shake hands before Game 3 of the 2024 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Networks place a high value on hiring former Hall of Fame and championship-winning players and coaches as analysts.

Legler was never a superstar as a player (he never made an All-Star team) and he doesn’t have a championship ring, but as an announcer he was a lot of fun to listen to.

He was selected as a commentator for Game 3 between the Nuggets and Timberwolves in May of this year and performed brilliantly.

Doc Rivers, Doris Burke and Mike Breen talk during a Golden State Warriors game on October 13, 2023. NBAE via Getty Images

If ESPN chooses to continue operating in-house, it has a few other options.

Richard Jefferson might take notice.

Another likely scenario is that ESPN chooses to keep Breen and Burke as a two-person booth.

The two had worked together prior to this season for several years when Jackson and Van Gundy weren’t paired with Breen and showed great chemistry.

Richard Jefferson will host the 2020 Sports Illustrated Awards. Getty Images

Adding Rivers and Redick to the mix didn’t work out too well; somehow the chemistry was never great in the booth as a trio.

Outside of ESPN, Chris Webber would be a solid dark horse candidate.

Weber is a talented announcer and Hall of Famer who previously worked with the great Marv Albert at TNT.

He is currently a free agent after parting ways with TNT just before the 2021 playoffs.

Chris Webber previously worked with Marv Albert at TNT. Getty Images

Chris Paul, who served as a studio commentator on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” early in past playoff games, was seen as a possible candidate for the job, but he said in April that he had no plans to retire.

He has 30 million reasons not to quit playing, and the Warriors owe him that much next season.

Dwyane Wade comes to mind, as he is working as a commentator for NBC’s U.S. basketball team during the Olympics this summer.

Dwyane Wade will be a commentator for the U.S. basketball team at this year’s Olympics. Getty Images

However, the role is widely speculated to be a tryout for a spot on the top announcing team if NBA on NBC were to return in 2025.

Charles Barkley would be a great option for ESPN to add some buzz to the booth, but TNT is set to broadcast the NBA for at least another year.

That reasoning would disqualify Stan Van Gundy, as would the fact that he roundly criticized the network for how they treated his brother upon leaving.

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