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NEW YORK ( -- After making a move to spice up its in-studio team for its NBA broadcasts this season, NBC is said to be taking a more conservative approach with its new broadcasting team for its showcase game.

The network is expected to announce it will pair veteran commentators Bill Walton and Steve "Snapper" Jones with play-by-play man Marv Albert, according to people familiar with the matter.

Network spokesman Kevin Sullivan declined to comment on the decision, but said an announcement will come in the near future.

NBC had earlier jettisoned the more reserved former player Kevin Johnson and ex-coach P.J. Carlesimo from its in-studio crew and replaced them with charismatic ex-player Jayson Williams, former Philadelphia 76ers team president Pat Croce and former coach Mike Fratello.

No Dennis Miller types
NBC could have tried something to create more buzz and interest with its in-game team such as selecting a sports "outsider" such as a comedian (as ABC did with Dennis Miller for its Monday Night Football broadcasts) to join Mr. Albert, but has instead settled on the safe route of Mr. Jones and Mr. Walton, who have worked together at NBC for some time.

NBC is returning to a three-man No. 1 game announcing team; last year, Mr. Albert was joined only by Doug Collins, who left to coach the Washington Wizards.

NBA ratings have been on the decline since Michael Jordan retired in 1998. His comeback with the Wizards may now give the numbers a lift.

NBC and Turner Sports are continuing to negotiate with the league on extending their contracts, which expire after this season.

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