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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Bidding War: NBA Insider Chris Haynes Poised To Hit Free Agency

  • Senior NBA Insider’s deal at Yahoo Sports up around Labor Day.
  • Pete Thamel, Jeff Passan and Adrian Wojnarowski have left Yahoo.
Credit: Hannah Whiten

One of the most sought-after free agents of the NBA offseason won’t be a player.

Yahoo Sports’ respected Senior NBA Insider Chris Haynes is poised to become a free agent around Labor Day, sources tell Front Office Sports.  

After covering teams like the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, and the LeBron James-era Cleveland Cavaliers, Haynes’ connections with NBA players are second-to-none. 

When he jumped to Yahoo from ESPN, Blazers superstar Lillard personally broke the news to his millions of Twitter followers.

Haynes’ deep player relationships make him a different Insider than rival Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who’s more plugged into the league’s front office executives.

“Haynes is the players’ guy,” said one source. 

With the sports media world turning to upcoming NBA media rights negotiations, the aggressive news-breaker is likely to draw serious interest from multiple bidders. 

The Fresno, Calif., native already serves as a Sideline Reporter for TNT’s NBA coverage as well as NBA TV. 

Both ESPN and TNT could be in the hunt for Haynes. But given his access to NBA players, interest could go well beyond the league’s two TV partners: Disney’s ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Turner Sports. 

The NBA’s media rights are up after the 2024-2025 season. The league is looking for a long-term $75 billion deal, worth $8 billion a year, according to CNBC. That would more than double its current nine-year, $24 billion deal with ESPN and TNT that pays $2.6 billion annually. As now, the league will likely split its rights across multiple partners to maximize rights fees.

The host of the “Posted Up with Chris Haynes” podcast boasts 440,000 followers on social media. With his expertise as Insider, Sideline Reporter, and Podcaster, he will likely draw interest from sports betting giants like DraftKings and FanDuel seeking NBA media rights. 

Not to mention tech giants like Amazon and Apple that are rapidly expanding into live sports via recent deals with the NFL, MLB and MLS. Haynes would also be open to extending his deal with Yahoo, said sources.

Launched in December 1997, Yahoo Sports helped pioneer digital sports coverage. But Haynes could join a growing list of journalists who’ve decamped over the past five years:

  • College football writer Pete Thamel left Yahoo for ESPN this January. ESPN envisions the senior writer as the “Adam Schefter of college football.” 
  • MLB Insider Jeff Passan bolted in January 2019 after 13 years at Yahoo. He extended his contract with ESPN  in November 2021.
  • Yahoo’s Pat Forde jumped to Sports Illustrated from Yahoo in October 2019. 
  • Boxing and NBA writer Chris Mannix returned to SI in 2018 after three years at Yahoo.
  • Breaking news machine Wojnarowski jumped to ESPN in 2017 after 10 years at Yahoo. His colleague Marc Spears left for ESPN’s The Undefeated (now Andscape) the year before.

Haynes succeeded Wojnarowski at Yahoo in 2018 — and rebuilt the company’s NBA coverage with the help of young talents like Vincent Goodwill

Private equity firm Apollo Management completed its $5 billion acquisition of Yahoo from Verizon in September 2021. Verizon kept a 10% stake — but the company was rebranded Yahoo.

A bidding war for Haynes would generate more drama to what’s shaping up as the Year of the Insiders.

Fellow NBA Insider Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium could also hit free agency this summer. A worried ESPN extended its deals with Wojnaroski and Schefter in April before they could test free agent waters.

Yahoo declined to comment. Haynes’ reps could not be reached for comment.

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