ESPN Swaps Out Marc Stein for Adrian Wojnarowski

About as big as an NBA reporter trade can get

Peter Kafka confirms last week's swirling rumors.
Headshot of Richard Horgan

Last week, Complex writer Aaron Mansfield perfectly summarized why ESPN might want to steal away Yahoo basketball writer Adrian Wojnarowski, who heads up the site’s The Vertical.

Mansfield was part of a large group of journalists speculating, on Twitter and beyond, that the only way to make sense of ESPN’s shocking layoff of NBA reporter Marc Stein was to assume that the network had drafted the only journalist who could logically fill those shoes. From the top of the Complex piece:

Last summer we told you the story of Shams Charania, the 22-year-old scoopmaster who was the Giannis Antetokounmpo of NBA journalism–the future of the game. Charania is a part of the most prolific NBA news-breaking force, Yahoo’s The Vertical, a team that’s led by Adrian Wojnarowski, one of the most plugged-in reporters in sports.

The Vertical beat ESPN’s television coverage to every draft pick last year and, behind Woj and Charania, also beat ESPN to most major free-agent scoops. Yahoo’s niche hoops outlet, dramatically outsized by ESPN, was dominating its competition.

Per a report by Recode’s Peter Kafka and subsequent confirmation by USA Today, ESPN’s poaching of “Woj” is now all but official. The only bad news for ESPN is that the move will happen after this year’s NBA draft. In fact, Kafka had to correct his item to make that clear, after Wojnarowski tweeted that he will be covering the June 22 events for ESPN.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.