Good afternoon class, my name is Professor Clark and today I’ll be teaching you about NBA rumor season. Some of you are new to this and my goal here is to provide you with the tools you need to interpret rumors. Many here are grizzled veterans of this process, but it never hurts to brush up on the basics. This is by no means an exhaustive study, just an introduction and/or reminder of the fundamentals.
Always follow the rumor to the source
We live in an age of aggregation and this blog is no exception. By the time you hear a rumor, it may have been filtered through 2 or 3 media sources. One media outlet runs a quote, another website paraphrases it, another takes it out of context, a third shortens it to fit into a tweet. Like a modern game of Telephone, the original quote is altered and distorted by the time you read it.
Aggregation isn’t all about the clicks (though I admit it is a driving force behind it). Speaking only for myself and SBNation I know that we do it to provide information and drive discussion on our site. We all see things through our own lenses and present the data in the context of our own biases.
So my advice is this: Always follow the rumor to the source. Most respectable outlets will link to and site the original media outlet that ran the rumor. Click on the link, read the context it was presented in. Sometimes that alone makes all the difference in the world to understanding the full meaning of the rumor.
Example: Today’s rumor that Gayle Benson would trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers “over my dead body.” That’s a great quote and makes for an amazing tweet.
Report: Pelicans owner Gayle Benson would trade Anthony Davis to Lakers only ‘over my dead body’ https://t.co/OiW4PrbgHW— Dan Feldman (@DanFeldmanNBA) May 17, 2019
Click on the link and you can see that it goes to NBCSports which pulled the quote from Jackie MacMullan’s appearance on Brian Windhorst’s podcast.
Here’s the full quote:
We have been told, I think, through channels – most of us have heard this same scuttlebutt – that Gayle Benson has basically told him, “To the Lakers, over my dead body.”
I’m a huge fan of MacMullan and respect her as much as anyone in the industry if not more. But I don’t know who her sources are and even if I did I don’t know how much you can trust this “scuttlebutt” as gospel.
Click again and you’ll see that the episode ran on May 10th, a full 4 days before the draft lottery. Who knows how much the results of that night have changed things? My un-sourced prediction is that we’ll hear a leak in the next few days indicating that Griffin is more than willing to “listen to offers” from the Lakers (if only to maintain leverage and generally run the Lakers through the mill once again).
On today's pod, @kevinarnovitz and I discussed the Lakers among AD trade destinations. Forgot to bring up the notion that NOP would refuse to deal w/ LA, though the in-depth Lakers discussion sort of implies my take on the situation. I also wrote this in my lottery recap column: pic.twitter.com/ViHxxKK4JK— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 17, 2019
Need another example? Take a listen to this clip from the Ryen Russillo podcast:
Ryen Russillo: "Stephen A came out and said that people close to Jeanie Buss were saying you should trade LeBron and we found it was people from her spin class." (via @pickuphoop) pic.twitter.com/NAzO6W6MH5— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) May 16, 2019
Every source has a motivation for leaking
I have my own 80/20 rule. I believe that we only hear 20% of what is actually being discussed. Note that 81.3% of all stats are completely made up.
Always, always ask yourself one simple question. Who benefits by releasing this information? You can deduce the source of the rumor pretty quickly in most cases.
Back in February there were constant updates telling us that the Lakers were Anthony Davis’ preferred destination. Davis is reped by Klutch Sports who also rep LeBron James. Connect the dots. The idea was to scare off other teams and pave the way to Los Angeles.
It wasn’t long before “someone” with links to Boston made it known that nobody was off the table if the Pelicans would simply wait until the summer to negotiate.
As it stands, there’s no conclusive evidence that Anthony will not re-sign in Boston or any other city that trades for him. Likewise, there’s nothing tangible to prove that Danny Ainge will include Jayson Tatum in any trade. All we have is rumors that follow the narrative pushed by various stakeholders.
We live in a day of instant access and information overload but that doesn’t always mean that we have the most up to date information. I almost always assume that the information is at least 2 weeks old by the time it gets to us.
There’s truth and there’s truth. As Obie Wan said, “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” Pay close attention to the way rumors are worded. Sometimes you can catch a hint in the tense of the phrasing or the context in which it is presented.
Not all reporters are as reliable as others and even the best are still dependent upon the quality of their sources. I present this tweet from July 2, 2016 as evidence.
Boston and Washington have rapidly lost hope of Al Horford leaving the Hawks, league sources tell @TheVertical.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2016
A mere 4 minutes later Al Horford announced that he was joining the Celtics.
So when in doubt, take a deep breath and take everything with a grain of salt. Hope you’ve enjoyed the class. Your homework is to discuss the latest rumors in the comments below and return to CelticsBlog multiple times a day throughout the offseason.