DAGGER: Wizards broadcast reportedly finds its Steve Buckhantz replacement

Josh Luckenbaugh
July 17, 2019 - 8:56 am

As Steve Buckhantz himself would say, "Dagger!"

NBC Sports Washington is expected to name Justin Kutcher as Buckhantz's replacement as the play-by-play voice on Wizards broadcasts, The Washington Post's Scott Allen reported Tuesday.

Buckhantz held the role for the last 22 seasons and reportedly expressed interest in coming back for a 23rd, but NBC Sports Washington decided not to pick up the option on his contract following the 2018-19 season. 

"I think the writing was on the wall when they decided not to renew his third-year option back in March," Allen told Grant Paulsen and Pete Medhurst Wednesday. "Just from talking to him ... you really got the sense that it was gonna be someone other than him."

The broadcast will also see some new faces in the analyst chair this season following the departure of Kara Lawson, who left to become an assistant coach with the Celtics. Per Allen, former Wizards Drew Gooden and Caron Butler are expected to split time next to Kutcher, Gooden calling the majority of games.

Kutcher has 17 years of play-by-play experience, having called games for networks such as ESPN, CBS Sports Network, Big Ten Network, and most recently Fox Sports, where he covered a variety of sports including MLB, college basketball, and college football.

"Justin Kutcher, who I expect to be named sometime this week, it was a little bit of a surprise to me," said Allen. "He's been around, done this for 17 years, but no D.C. ties and maybe not the big splash you'd think they'd be looking for to replace a legend like Buckhantz."

Buckhantz told 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoon that Wizards owner Ted Leonsis could have saved his job, but chose not to. "And that's the most hurtful thing," he 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."

NBC Sports Washington has since announced Kutcher and Gooden as the Wizards new TV duo.

Kutcher faces a daunting task replacing Buckhantz, a D.C. staple beloved by Wizards fans. 106.7 The Fan's Chris Lingebach called the decision to replace Buckhantz a "laughably misplaced change of direction."

"The Wiz have been awful through much of Buckhantz's 22 seasons with the team," The Fan columnist Rick Snider wrote in March after NBC Sports Washington declined to pick up Buckhantz's option. "But, he made the game bearable through his insight."

"'Buck' is a quality person and that always shines through. He's funny and genuine. When the team has its too often really bad nights, Buckhantz isn't a phony and tells the truth, but not in a way that you just turn on Seinfeld reruns instead of watching the rest of a loss."

"The key to watching a perennially-bad team is the announcer. They keep you not only engaged, but invested. On good nights, they raise the excitement. Who doesn't love hearing Buckhantz's trademark 'Dagger!' after a game-winner?"

Indeed, Tuesday's report was nothing short of a dagger for many of the Wizards faithful. 

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