|Bill Simmons, ready to pontificate elsewhere?|
With the NBA staying with ESPN and Turner Sports on its massive new TV deal, that leaves TNT as the only place to which Simmons could reasonably jump from ESPN, since basketball is No. 1 in his sports heart of hearts, right?
Well, TNT, while having a great and funny hoops pregame set (and having Simmons mixed with Sir Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal would be nothing if not entertaining), it strikes me as thin on the ground on other sports, and per the piece, very thin on the ground on web presence.
Well, what if he decided to become a free agent instead?
Sounds interesting, no?
Well, not based on Grantland's web traffic, it doesn't sound interesting at all to would-be investors. (And, I'm sure Deadspin's top writers all know those traffic numbers and their 5x edge over Simmons, which is part of why they semi-regularly kick him in the nads. And, I'm sure ESPN knows, and Simmons knows, at least in part.
That said, if he did want to jump to a third party not named Turner, here's some possibilities. In terms of what IT needs, Yahoo would make a smart bet. Jeff Passan is young and snarky enough on baseball, he'd be a good mix. Yahoo's got other good sports columnists; some of them would love to do more long-form stuff.
But, especially if he wanted to go indie, who would leave Grantland to go with him? Jalen Rose? He might like getting a bigger ESPN presence. Bill Barnwell or Zach Lowe? They're both straight-up sports analysts, tied only to Simmons' branding and not his style or schtick.
He's need a second banana of sorts, too, probably. I don't know how much he likes Keith Olbermann, or if he'd be willing to pair with Dan Patrick.
He also, if he went indy, would need a COO type person. Not so much to keep Simmons on an editorial string, but somebody to override Bill's haphazard management; somebody to run the nuts-and-bolts stuff and, while OKing some of Simmons' zany ideas, saying no to others.
As for how likely any of this is? I don't know.
You'd also have to have a CFO type person who is both a rainmaker for financial backers and also a rainmaker for marketing, if Simmons were no longer part of the Great Red Satan.
Look at Ezra Klein and Vox. It's kind of struggling away from the Washington Post, and Ezra has more background on pushing himself than does Simmons, I think, plus more knowledge of how you do this from his time at the Post.
Speaking of him, that leads me to the lead anchor that is Nate Silver and 538.
Why isn't he doing better? That probably is dependent in fair degree on multiple parties having had wide-eyed, and poorly focused, ideas about the art of the possible with Silver at ESPN/Grantland.