Costas, Thomas in at NBC for Albert

NEW YORK — NBC has tapped veteran sportscaster Bob Costas and former Detroit Piston Isiah Thomas as its top announcing team for NBA coverage, ending speculation about who would replace the ousted Marv Albert.

The new pairing will debut Christmas Day, when Costas and Thomas will announce the second game of an NBA doubleheader, and will continue with NBC’s game of the week, All-Star game, Eastern conference finals and NBA finals in June.

Thomas has been signed to a two-year deal, worth an estimated $600,000 per year, that also includes twice-weekly segments on the business of sports at CNBC.

High-profile pairing

Albert, fired after he pleaded guilty to charges of assaulting a woman in a Virginia hotel room, was NBC’s key play-by-play man, and the network’s renewal of its NBA contract earlier this month put pressure on the web’s sports division to secure a high-profile pairing.

Aside from Costas, inhouse announcers Greg Gumbel and Tom Hammond were finalists for the top spot. Instead, each will preside over second-string announcing teams, with Gumbel, Bill Walton and Steve Jones calling regional and playoff games as well as the Western conference finals. Former Albert partner Matt Guokas moves from the lead team to a third announcer unit led by Hammond and Dan Issel.

For the past three years, Thomas has served as an exec VP and 9% owner of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, but he began negotiating his departure from the team before signing with NBC, where his deal would have precluded a team stake.

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