NBA Trades in Times of Twitter & Instagram Media and fans play detectives, and social media — where truth and rumour are one — is where all the clues seem to be
While the Knicks practiced on Wednesday afternoon, a day before the NBA’s player trade deadline, Derrick Rose stood on the side and watched during the part that was open to the news media. It was a conspicuous giventhetiming.Whenaplayerenmeshedin traderumours—asRosehasbeen—doesnot participate, it fuels speculation, even if the development has nothing to do with a trade.
Rose left the workout without speaking to reporters,butaKnicksspokesmansaidRose had practiced for all but the final minutes. Hisabsenceattheendofthesession,theteam representative said, was circumstantial.
Still,inthehoursleadingtothedeadline,as the Knicks prepared to resume their season Thursday night against the Cavaliers, many were scrutinising every move for signs of an impending deal. The vast NBA universe be- comes a game of Clue: Which team is trading whom to where, and for what?
Normally innocuous actions can gain outsize importance. Was Rose’s inactivity a signal? What about the fact that Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio — who could potentially be involved in a trade for Rose — was following Kristaps Porzingis on Twitter? Rubio follows only 236 people, and Porzingis was his latest addition.
So what to believe when social media is just a decoder ring with no instructions?
“Everybody is just looking for something,” Brandon Jennings of the Knicks said. “First of all, players are not going to say anything anyway if it is something. I think it’s just fun because you can mess around with people.” On Monday night, Carmelo Anthony was caught in the tempest after an emoji and a click on Instagram set fans to theorising about a possible new destination for him. First, the Celtics’ team account was caught following Anthony on Instagram, and then the All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas tweeted an emoji of a pair of eyes that rustled up more speculation.
Forty-six minutes later, the Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren posted onTwitterthathehadsuddenlybeendeluged by queries about whether a trade was imminent. “Life in 2017,” he wrote. Amid all this madness, Anthony insisted that he was still at ease. He has been a steady subject of trade rumours for a month, with the Celtics and the Clippers said to be his main suitors, but he remained a Knick less than 24 hours before the deadline.
That, however, will do little to stop the Twitter and Instagram detectives from trying to sniff out any news. Anthony says he ignores the social media churn. Others are more willing to play the game. Shortly after Thomas posted his eyeball emoji, Jennings shared the same thing on Twitter, knowing it would cause a stir (though he later deleted it). When Pistons player Andre Drummond did it too, it had become a meme.
While Jennings took a social media respite over the last few days after receiving what he called a few “weird” Twitter messages from Knicks fans, he said, he will soon return to playfully antagonising his followers. He knows Twitter wields power around the trade deadline.
“I’m going to do it again today with the eyes,” Jennings said. “I’m going to do it again.” Knowing that fans and the news media alike will make every effort to decode the message, he added, “I might just start following every other team and players.”
The trade deadline passed 3pm ET (4.30am in India) on Thursday.
Normally innocuous actions can gain outsize importance