After her private and insensitive comments were published, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols was dropped from the sidelines to start the NBA Finals broadcast.
Now it is unclear whether host Maria Taylor will end the league̵
Although not “Stephen A Smith money”, ESPN has a contract on the table for Taylor near $ 3 million a year, The Post has learned.
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The deal represents about three times more than her current $ 1 million a year.
Sources said Taylor has interest from both NBC and Amazon, while CBS, Fox and TNT are not involved.
Taylor’s current contract expires in less than two weeks on July 20, which is the date of a potential Game 6 of the NBA Finals. If no new deal is reached, it’s unclear right now what ESPN and Taylor would do if the Suns-Bucks series expands.
In addition to hosting the final and “NBA Countdown,” Taylor, 34, hosts college football national championship sideline reporters and the NCAA Women’s Tournament. The new deal would expand her role further, though the details are not unknown.
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During the pandemic, when wages began to be cut, the highest paid talent was asked to take 15 percent pay cuts, and with layoffs on the horizon, ESPN Taylor offered a deal that would eventually have escalated to nearly $ 5 million in the past. years. Taylor rejected it.
The 53-year-old Smith has a salary of nearly $ 8 million. According to sources, Taylor hopes to end up in this neighborhood.
Although ESPN now offers less, they are around $ 3 million per year. Still a significant increase and comes in the wake of ESPN’s pruning salary. For example, longtime crooked “SportsCenter” anchor Kenny Mayne was offered a 61 percent cut from about $ 1.7 million in salary, while MMA personality Ariel Helwani, who earned nearly half a million, was asked to accept a drop at 5 percent. Both Mayne and Helwani left the company.
Confusion of the negotiations is the New York Times article in which Nichols’ almost-year-old private comments were published.
In them, Nichols said that ESPN may deprive her of the contractually agreed role as host of The Finals “because [ESPN is] feel pressure about [its] crazy long-standing record of diversity “in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement.
ESPN executives failed to take any meaningful action against Nichols’ comments, which may have been recorded illegally. The Times story emerged on the eve of the final and with Taylor’s current contract settled.
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Since the article, ESPN removed Nichols from the sidelines, even though her afternoon show “The Jump” was skipped before the first game of the finale. It’s back in the air now.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver questioned how ESPN handled the issue, lamenting that Nichols and Taylor were not brought into a room to hack Nichols’ comments out.
Taylor did not respond to a request for comment. ESPN declined to comment.
As is the normal process, Taylor’s representative has reached out to the major networks, but NBC and Amazon are, according to sources, the only known potential landing sites.
NBC has the Super Bowl this year, which could create tent opportunities. Mike Tirico is expected to largely replace Al Michaels as “Sunday Night Football” play-by-player next season, who will open up for the “Sunday Night Football” awards show host.
An interesting sideline to this opportunity is that Drew Brees begins as an NBC NFL award analyst this season. Taylor was very critical of Brees after his comments last year regarding players who did not stand for the national anthem.
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According to sources, Amazon has an interest in Taylor for her exclusive Thursday night package, which begins in 2022. She may be on the sidelines or a host.
For now, she’s still under contract with ESPN, but the clock is ticking off her current deal, leaving the question of whether she will end the finale.