NBC Sports Washington is expected to name Fox Sports announcer Justin Kutcher as its new Wizards play-by-play man this week, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Kutcher will replace Steve Buckhantz, who called Wizards games for the past 22 years and whose return has been in doubt since the network opted not to exercise his contract option in March.
Former Wizards Drew Gooden and Caron Butler are expected to share the TV analyst role alongside Kutcher, with Gooden calling a majority of the games. The analyst position became available when Kara Lawson, who served as Buckhantz’s broadcast partner for the past two seasons after she replaced Phil Chenier, was hired as an assistant coach by the Boston Celtics last month.
Kutcher, 39, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, grew up in Fairfield, Conn., and graduated from Boston University. He has 17 years of play-by-play experience with CSTV, Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPN and Fox Sports. Since joining Fox Sports in 2012, Kutcher has broadcast a variety of sports, including Major League Baseball, college football and college basketball.
Gooden, who played the final three seasons of his 14-year NBA career in Washington, has contributed to NBC Sports Washington’s pregame and postgame Wizards coverage since 2017. He has experience in the analyst role after filling in for Lawson toward the end of last season.
Butler was a fan favorite during his five seasons with the Wizards and averaged a career-high 20.8 points in 2008-09. The 2011 NBA champion with the Dallas Mavericks retired in 2018 and has worked as an NBA and college basketball analyst for ESPN, Fox Sports, Turner and NBA TV over the past two years.
Details of the hirings are still being finalized, according to the person with knowledge of them, but longtime sideline reporter Chris Miller is expected to return in the same role.
Buckhantz, 64, expressed interest in returning for a 23rd season calling Wizards games.
“When you’re wanted by someone and you’re very popular, it’s a great thing, and when you’re not, it’s not so great,” Buckhantz said in a phone interview in May. “It shows you that, really, you have to live in the moment because all the accolades in the world that you get are fabulous, but it’s sort of, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ It’s who wants you and who doesn’t."
NBC Sports Washington, which did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday, considered roughly 12 candidates for Buckhantz’s play-by-play position. The candidates included NFL Network host Dan Hellie and NBC Sports Bay Area anchor Dave Feldman, both of whom have ties to the D.C. area.
The news that Buckhantz’s contract option was not renewed sparked criticism from fans and media members, prompting the network’s general manager, Damon Phillips, to attempt to explain the decision.
“I think it’s important that you know — and that fans know — that as the GM it’s really my responsibility to make sure we have the right talent,” Phillips told The Washington Post in March. “These decisions, they start and they end with me. We are performing our due diligence and exploring all options.”