NBA Trade News: Russell Westbrook to NY Knicks, Tyson Chandler to OKC Thunder; Blockbuster Deal That Should Happen Before Trade Deadline
The Thunder aren’t trading Russell Westbrook. Under any circumstance. It’s not happening. Therefore, any subsequent thing that involves his name and the word “trade” in it should be ignored entirely, unless you just enjoy wild, pointless speculation
Most of you understand this. But I get enough tweets, enough emails and enough texts asking, “Any truth to the Westbrook/Knicks deal?” that makes me think that a lot still don’t. Not every trade rumor is created equal, especially ones that are completely based on one random dude’s speculation.
So where did this nonsense trade “rumor” originate from and why are your friends texting you about it right now? And how does it go from nothing to people repeating it as if it’s real?
Here’s where it started: A Knicks fan, writing for Yahoo’s “Contributor Network,” which is a fancy way of saying, “Here’s where anybody (unpaid) can sign up and write something and if we like it we’ll promote it,” wrote something about a trade he wanted to see happen for the Knicks. This particular person is named Del Pearson, who you can find here, with his 112 Twitter followers.
Now this isn’t to take any kind of shot at Pearson, who actually wrote a fine little piece of fan fiction for Yahoo. It’s more to illustrate that while his name appears on a Yahoo-endorsed article, he’s not exactly Adrian Wojnarowski. And to Pearson’s credit, he never once pretended he had some kind of information, or acted as if this trade was something likely to happen. It was just one guy, fantasizing about his favorite team making a trade. Harmless, fun and no big deal.
But that’s assuming people aren’t out hunting juicy click bait-y trade rumors, and others aren’t naive enough to actually believe said crap.
The website Latino Post — who was also responsible for fabricating the Thabo-for-Shumpert deal — picked up Pearson’s post and presented more as if it were based in factual reporting.
“Knicks-Thunder Blockbuster Deal,” the article has as a subtitle. “According to Yahoo Sports contributor Del Pearson, the Knicks’ current woes are the product of an unhealthy frontline and inconsistency in their backcourt, particularly at the point guard spot.” Yep, according to Del Pearson, the Knicks guy with 112 Twitter followers.
Then the website International Business Times went even further with it.
“According to Latino Post, the Thunder-Knicks deal will surely be the biggest trade this season, if both teams are going to be ‘bold’ enough to pull it off.”
That’s right, they cited Latino Post, who cited Pearson, who was just speculating on his own speculation. But with an eye-catching headline, there was potential for it to spread.
Another site, Digital Journal, went with this headline: “NBA Trade Rumors: Russell Westbrook to NY Knicks?” Are you kidding me?
Here’s the simple rule of thumb to abide by: If you’re not seeing it reported from Adrian Wojnarowski, or Marc Spears, or Sam Amick, or Marc Stein, or Chris Broussard, or Ken Berger, or Darnell Mayberry, or Howard Beck, or heck, even me, then it’s nothing you should care about. If there’s NBA news to be known about, those guys know it. Latino Post or International Business Times aren’t beating them on a freaking trade involving Russell Westbrook.
The problem with so many of these aggregation sites is that they know a lot of people are only reading a headline. They see it, it catches their attention, then they share it. In fact, I was going to make the title of this post “Trade Rumor: Russell Westbrook to the Knicks” to try and illustrate my point, but I was afraid it would backfire, because people are dumb. Because the click-bait headline is a scam that lots fall for.
If you notice, in each one of those stories, the writers take careful consideration to cite where it came from and to never go as far to say as if it’s actually a trade being discussed by the teams in real life. After they try to lure you in with that juicy headline, they eventually present it for what it is: A trade that one guy on the Internet with 112 Twitter followers thinks should happen.
I blame Yahoo a lot for this, though. With their “Contributor Network,” they’ve given voice to anyone with a keyboard, and then they present it under their very credible “Yahoo Sports” banner. The same one where Woj and Spears and Kelly Dwyer and Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel and Eric Freeman and Dan Devine and lots of other great writers have bylines. So it has instant credibility and most casual fans aren’t paying a lot of attention to who wrote it. They just care that it’s on Yahoo. But there’s also a responsibility for the reader to pay attention to that. A lot don’t. Which is when the word of mouth — or in this case, word of Facebook and Twitter — start spreading nonsense. It’s a horrible game of Trade Rumor Telephone.
I get it: Fans love trade rumors more than they love actual trades. The speculation and back and forth is almost as much fun as the actual basketball. But so many sites try and take advantage of that fascination. They know people want the rumors as much as they want the games. The idea of your team trading for Caron Butler is a lot more fun that your team actually trading for Caron Butler.
And because fans crave those trade rumors so much, I think a lot have trouble separating speculation and actual trade talk. For instance, last year Berry Tramel wrote a nice thought-provoking thing about the Thunder trading for J.J. Barea and how he’d help the bench. That quickly mutated into its own trade rumor with people asking if Barea to the Thunder was going to happen.
Again, I don’t write this to shame anyone. Consider it more of a PSA, and something to reduce the amount of yelling I do to no one in particular in my house about completely ridiculous trade rumors. When it comes to these sorts of things and you see a trade rumor involving someone like Russell Westbrook, maybe stop for one second before you go “ohmahgosh Westbrook to the Knicks!?!?” and post it on Facebook. Read more than the headline. Look at where the story is originating from.
And most importantly, think.