As the NBA becomes year-round Must-See TV, multi-media team/league reporters are becoming worth their weight in gold. The next possible free agent on the horizon is ESPN’s NBA reporter Chris Haynes, sources tell Sporting News.
Haynes just made headlines for his eye-opening interview with DeMar DeRozan, following DeRozan being traded from the Raptors to the Spurs for disgruntled superstar Kawhi Leonard. During the wide-ranging interview, the young NBA star confessed to his angst, confusion and disappointment over being traded by the Raptors. DeRozan told Haynes that Raptors management assured him he was not being traded.
In his first interview since the blockbuster trade, I sat down with @DeMar_DeRozan for a revealing, setting-the-record-straight conversation that airs tonight on @SportsCenter. pic.twitter.com/lJKqGV5pen
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 25, 2018
“My mindset was that I was always going to be in Toronto my whole career, but I was never naive. Just let me know,” DeRozan told Haynes. “That’s where my frustration came from. And I think it showed. From the fans to even myself — it just caught me completely off-guard.”
Haynes’ current contract with the Worldwide Leader is set to expire before the October tipoff of the 2018-2019 NBA regular season, sources said. ESPN wants to keep Haynes at the right price, sources tell Sporting News.
But Haynes is expected to field multiple offers from TV, print and digital suitors. Mark Lepselter, Haynes’ agent at MAXX Sports & Entertainment, declined to comment. ESPN also declined to comment.
Haynes is one of the few beat reporters to cover both Stephen Curry’s NBA champion Warriors and LeBron James’ Cavaliers. The Fresno, Calif., native covered James’ Cavaliers for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer from 2014 to 2016. Then he jumped to ESPN to cover Curry and the emerging Warriors dynasty in Oakland the past two years.
The NBA insider has an intriguing back story. The Fresno State graduate was a security guard writing part time for SLAM when he landed his first full-time gig in Portland covering the Blazers for NBC Sports Northwest.
In an interview, Haynes told Alex Putterman of Awful Announcing about his unique history covering the two best teams in the NBA and how his easy rapport with current NBA players enables him to get scoops other reporters can’t — such as getting James to open up in a presser about his reaction to J.R. Smith’s Game 1 blunder in this year’s Finals:
I asked LeBron a question prior to Game 3 about that Game 1 film footage, and he gave a great response. Most players don’t like talking about games that happened two games ago, but because of my rapport with him he gave me a nice response. It’s all about what makes them tick. I know the guys, I know what makes them tick, I know what bothers them. I have to ask some tough questions, but there are ways of rephrasing to make sure you get what you want. And they know me. They know how I am, they know I’m not doing anything malicious, they know I’m not doing anything to make them look bad. They just have that rapport with me. It’s just a whole relationship dynamic. I think that’s what you have to have on a beat if you want to be successful.
LeBron responds to viral video of him on bench in Game 1 reacting to learning Cavs still had a timeout late, “It went viral? Damn cameras!” pic.twitter.com/qNSO5d7Mqb
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) June 5, 2018
The upcoming Haynes negotiations are just the latest sports media news involving NBA reporters. Top dog Adrian Wojnarowski jumped to ESPN from his long-time home at Yahoo Sports in 2017.
The contract for Woj’s Yahoo protege, Shams Charania, is also up in August, reports Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.
Yahoo GM Geoff Reiss confirmed in a statement that Charania is leaving Yahoo. AA speculated he’ll end up at The Athletic, which recruited media writer Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated.