Justin Kutcher, Drew Gooden announced as new Wizards TV duo

Chris Lingebach
July 17, 2019 - 6:32 pm

NBC Sports Washington has announced Justin Kutcher as its new play-by-play announcer for Wizards broadcasts, replacing longtime announcer Steve Buckhantz.

Kutcher has spent the past 13 years doing play-by-play for national networks, including FOX Sports and ESPN. NBC Sports Washington also announced the addition of former Wizards player Drew Gooden as an analyst on game broadcasts. Gooden will fill the role left by Kara Lawson, who left the network in June for an assistant coaching job with the Boston Celtics.

That means, for the first time in 22 years, Wizards broadcasts won't feature either Buckhantz or his longtime broadcast partner, Phil Chenier, whom Lawson replaced in Sept. 2017.

Scott Allen of The Washington Post first reported Tuesday night that Kutcher had been hired to replace Buckhantz. Allen also reported that Kutcher would be joined by Gooden and fellow ex-Wizard Caron Butler, with the latter two splitting time as analysts on the broadcast next season.

Butler's name was nowhere to be found in NBC Sports Washington's press release. Allen reports that's because Butler is still in talks with the network to join the crew.

Chris Miller will continue in his longtime role as Wizards courtside reporter.

"We are tremendously excited and proud to unveil a dynamic new team to provide NBC Sports Washington’s live coverage of Wizards basketball," said NBCSW Sr. VP and GM Damon Phillips. "Justin's skill, dedication and tremendous body of work have established him as one of the preeminent sports announcers nationwide. His impressive background and passion for basketball, combined with the considerable NBA and Wizards knowledge Drew and Chris have accumulated, will result in a high-quality, entertaining product for fans."

Buckhantz first learned this past March he may not be in the network's future plans, when NBC Sports Washington declined to pick up the third-year option on his contract. He's spent the better part of the past four months in the dark about the situation, telling 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday he's neither heard from Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, nor his son, Zach, in that time.

Buckhantz rejected NBC Sports Washington's position that the decision was theirs to let him go, saying Ted or Zach Leonsis could have stepped in at any time to save his job.

"Well, that didn't happen here, so that's unfortunate, and that's the most hurtful thing," Buckhantz said. "And I have not heard from Ted or Zach at all since this has happened, or since the whole process even began, and that's also hurtful."

"Anyone with knowledge of this process and how we operate our business, knows that talent decisions are made by the TV network, not the team," Phillips told The Fan when reached for comment on Buckhantz's remarks. "That may not be the case in other NBA markets, but that's how it works here."

In Oct. 2016, Monumental Sports and NBC Sports Washington (then-CSN Mid-Atlantic) announced a media partnership which allowed Monumental to become an equity partner in the regional sports network. Monumental also gained representation on the network's board of directors in the deal. NBC also became an equity partner in Monumental, gaining representation on its board.

The Washington Post reported at the time that Monumental would be receiving approx. one-third ownership in the regional sports network, along with two seats on the network's six-person board. Monumental Sports owns and operates the Washington Wizards, and Ted Leonsis is its founder, chairman, principal partner and Chief Operating Officer – in other words, the majority owner.

Monumental Sports did not return a request for comment from The Fan.

Kutcher has 17 years of experience as a play-by-play announcer, covering top sporting events across the professional and college ranks. He spent the past seven years calling nationally televised NCAA basketball and football games, and MLB and NFL games, for FOX Sports. He was also a contributor to coverage of the past four U.S. Open golf championships, and several international soccer events, including the 2015 Women's World Cup, as well as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Kutcher served as a play-by-play announcer at ESPN for four years prior to joining FOX Sports. He's also worked for CSTV (now CBS Sports Network), the Big Ten Network and MLB.com.

"I am incredibly honored and humbled to join NBC Sports Washington as the play-by-play announcer for their Wizards coverage, and can't wait to partner with Drew and Chris and the rest of the production team to provide fans the best broadcast possible," said Kutcher. "Basketball has been a part of my life since I can remember, and to now be the television voice of an NBA team is almost surreal. I'm so excited to become part of Washington's passionate basketball community, and to build a relationship with the fans."

Gooden has spent the past two seasons as the lead analyst for Wizards pre- and post-game coverage.

"First off, I'd like to thank NBC Sports Washington for giving me another opportunity to grow and flourish as an analyst for the Wizards, I'm extremely excited to be a part of this family," said Gooden. "Over the past several seasons, so many people have not only supported me, but allowed me to grow into this new role. Now let's get started."

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan