Lawson became one of the first women to serve as a primary TV analyst for an NBA team when NBCSW hired her to replace Phil Chenier, who had teamed with Buckhantz since 1997, before the 2017-18 season. The West Springfield High graduate, who was an all-American at Tennessee, an Olympic gold medalist and a WNBA champion with the Sacramento Monarchs, previously covered the NBA and called men’s and women’s college basketball games for ESPN. She finished her 13-year WNBA career in Washington, stepping away after the 2015 season.
“Along with everyone at NBC Sports Washington, I’d like to congratulate Kara on an incredible opportunity and thank her for her work over the past two seasons as our game analyst,” NBCSW General Manager Damon Phillips said in a statement. “We wish her luck as she continues to break ground in new areas and pursue her passion.”
ESPN reported that Lawson, 38, had been in discussions with several NBA teams about an on-court coaching job in recent years. She would join a growing group of female coaches on NBA benches, including San Antonio’s Becky Hammon, Dallas’s Jenny Boucek and Cleveland’s Lindsay Gottlieb. Mystics guard Kristi Toliver joined Wizards Coach Scott Brooks’s staff as an assistant coach before last season, becoming Washington’s first female coach and the first active WNBA player to coach in the NBA.
Mystics Coach Mike Thibault, who coached Lawson in Connecticut and Washington, said he has been telling his former point guard for years that she was cut out to be a coach.
“She kept saying, ‘But I love what I do,’ " Thibault said Thursday when asked about ESPN’s report. “I said, 'But you keep talking about coaching. . . . You talk with me and [Mystics associate head coach Eric Thibault] all the time about X’s and O’s, and you quiz other coaches when you’re doing games as a broadcaster. You want to know the whys and wherefores of things and the ins and outs. You play point guard. You have this feel about how the game should be played.”
Buckhantz, meanwhile, has been in limbo since NBC Sports Washington opted not to exercise his third-year option by its March deadline. Buckhantz still could return for his 23rd season calling Wizards games, but as of mid-May, the network was considering roughly 12 candidates for his position, including NFL Network host Dan Hellie and NBC Sports Bay Area anchor Dave Feldman.
“I have not heard anything from NBC Sports Washington,” the 64-year-old Buckhantz said on the Team 980 two weeks ago. “The only contact we’ve had really was when they told me they were going to be auditioning other people for this job. That’s it.”
The Athletic reported this week that Buckhantz did not attend the National Sports Media Association’s awards banquet this past weekend in Winston Salem, N.C., where he was honored as the 2018 D.C. sportscaster of the year. An NBC spokeswoman told the Athletic that Phillips did “not have any updates to share at this point” regarding Buckhantz’s future on Wizards broadcasts.
Lawson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ava Wallace contributed to this report.
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