Scalabrine to join CSNNE Celtics coverage

Brian Scalabrine, a popular role player for five seasons with the Celtics, including the 2007-08 champions, will have a new role when the NBA season begins.

Scalabrine, who played last season for the Bulls, will join Comcast SportsNet New England as an analyst on its Celtics broadcasts, though the deal is not yet finalized according to industry sources. His decision to turn down an assistant coaching position with the Bulls and join CSNNE was first reported by Yahoo! Sports’s Adrian Wojnarowski Thursday.

“Saying no to [Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau] was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,’’ Scalabrine told Yahoo. A free agent, he said he wasn’t yet ready to formally announce his retirement but that he had “zero opportunities’’ to sign with a team.

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His foray into television is no surprise. Scalabrine has often said he’d prefer broadcasting to coaching once his playing days were done, and he earned good marks for his work as a guest analyst during pre- and postgame programming on CSNNE last spring during the Celtics’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

He said he will handle color analysis on 11 games — most likely on road trips in which color analyst Tommy Heinsohn does not travel — and also take on some studio work. Industry sources confirm his hiring is an addition rather than a replacement, with the legendary Heinsohn and analyst Donny Marshall both continuing in their current roles. Scalabrine’s role will be similar to that of Bill Walton and Dave Cowens , who have contributed to CSNNE Celtics broadcasts in the recent past.

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