Multiple sources have confirmed to me in the past week that ESPN has designs on hiring Cleveland Cavaliers beat reporter Brian Windhorst away from the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER to cover the Miami Heat this season for ESPN.com.
Windhorst, who has covered the Cavs sinces 2003, has not been available for comment in the past week, though he did file a story for the Plain Dealer yesterday and has yet to announce a change of address publicly. Sources tell me that a deal between Windhorst and ESPN has not yet been finalized.
Windhorst already has ties to Bristol. Since 2006, he’s contributed to ESPN.com and ESPN2’s First Take television show on a part-time basis. He also reportedly has a home in Jupiter, Florida - a relatively short drive from Miami.
Late last week ESPN was also in the process of hiring another well-known, Miami-based NBA reporter to cover the Heat for ESPN.com.
I’ve been told that Mike Wallace, who last season served as Heat beat reporter for the MIAMI HERALD, has resigned his position with the newspaper and will likely join ESPN.com to cover the Heat while also contributing national NBA coverage. Like Windhorst, Wallace’s deal with ESPN has not been completely consumated.
Sources tell me there would be no plans to use Windhorst and Wallace on ESPN television if they are brought on board by the network.
ESPN has already announced it is sending four TV on-air staffers to cover Heat Training Camp. With Wallace and Windhorst, the network could potentially have six reporters covering the Heat before the NBA season starts.
The move to hire two, full-time ESPN.com reporters to cover the Heat beat could be seen by some as a prelude to ESPN launching a local ESPNMiami.com site, but I’ve been told that the launch of such a site is not imminent.
The most prominent Cleveland reporter chronicling the fortunes of LeBron James since he entered the NBA, Windhorst also covered James for the AKRON BEACON-JOURNAL while the hoops prodigy was in high school and wrote a book with celebrated Cleveland sportswriter and author Terry Pluto about the NBA star.
When contacted, an ESPN spokesman had no comment on Windhorst and Wallace joining the network.
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