The one truly indispensable basketball reporter is making moves. According to multiple sources, Yahoo reporter Adrian Wojnarowski has approached a number of basketball writers over the past few weeks and pitched them on joining a new personality-driven basketball website that he is contemplating. It’s unclear what the website would look like or who would fund it—one source described Wojnarowski’s pitch as “peddling” the site—but it sounds like it is being modeled on Sports Illustrated’s MMQB, the extremely successful football-only standalone site led by Peter King, which has a staff of around 10.
The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre, a former colleague of Wojnarowski’s at The Record (Bergen County, NJ), reports that FOX, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated are all courting Wojnarowski, but our sources say Mcintyre has the story backwards: that Wojnarowski is pitching a website to them. It is also highly unlikely that ESPN, who had conversations with Wojnarowski’s agent when his contract was up in 2012, would pursue Wojnarowski, given the many problems with their own personality-driven websites. For his part, Wojnarowski has a well-known disdain for ESPN.
Wojnarowski signed a contract with Yahoo in 2012, and according to a source it expires during this coming offseason. If Wojnarowski is looking for writers, this summer is as good of a time as any to find them. The contracts of the four basketball writers Bleacher Report hired two years ago in their push for increased quality—Howard Beck, Kevin Ding, Ethan Skolnick, Jared Zwerling—are up soon. Meanwhile, Grantland’s basketball crew—Jonathan Abrams, Zach Lowe, Kirk Goldsberry, and assorted others—are said to be hesitant of their future at ESPN after Bill Simmons’s unceremonious ouster.
While MMQB has been a success for Sports Illustrated, it remains to be seen whether there is an audience appetite for a basketball-only site. Wojnarowski seems ready to find out, though—according to a source, he’s approached Ding, Goldsberry, and CBS Sports’ Ken Berger. (None of them returned emails seeking comment, and Wojnarowski didn’t return an email or phone call.)