'The Office' is indeed undergoing a period of great change, if not the last throes before death.  Not only has writer and star Mindy Kaling exited for 'The Mindy Project,' James Spader departed after a single season, show-runner  Paul Lieberstein stepped down, and John Krasinski and Ed Helms taken somewhat reduced schedules for the upcoming ninth season, but now writing and character staple B.J. Novak will take a smaller role as well.

Continuing the streak of 'The Office' stars slowly jumping ship, TV Guide reports that B.J. Novak will take a reduced role in the coming ninth season.  Novak has been present with the show from the 2005 beginning as both a writer, and character Ryan Howard.  Though no longer a series regular, Novak is expected to make sporadic appearances in character, and possibly contribute to the writing and directing effort as well.

Novak's longtime creative partner Mindy Kaling was the first major exit following Steve Carell, as FOX opted to move forward with her original sitcom 'The Mindy Project,' on which Novak was an executive producer.  However, Novak will not maintain that title going forward, and has no major projects set up to replace his diminished 'Office' role.

Indeed, 'The Office' seems to be on its last legs as cast depart the series, and male leads Ed Helms and John Krasinski will also take time off in the coming season for their busy film schedules.

What say you?  Do you think B.J. Novak's reduced role spells more doom for 'The Office,' or can the show be great with new characters?  Sound off in the comments below!