Nothing generates page views like a good trade rumor (or free-agent rumor, but that's in the summer). NBA fans love hearing about how "Superstar X" should end up on their team, or why embattled and/or aging "Not-Quite-Superstar Y" shouldn't. In the case of Dwight Howard, the prevailing opinion appears to fall primarily into the second category.
Regardless, people eat this stuff up, and those who cover it for various media outlets take full advantage and do everything they can to draw in readers.
Before I get into the details, I want to make perfectly clear that I'm not trying to assign blame or call anyone out. This is just the nature of the beast in 2015 and we're all culpable, myself and this site included. Having said that, here is a perfect example of why I hate NBA trade rumors:
Last Wednesday, Kevin Pelton published an ESPN Insider piece with the following title:
Five potential trades if the Rockets move Dwight Howard
The key words to keep in mind are "potential" and "if." Nowhere in Pelton's article did he mention any sources saying Houston actually intends to move Howard, he simply stated the rationale for why it could happen. The first team Pelton discussed as a possibility was the Celtics (followed by the Pelicans, Magic, Suns and Wizards).
A national writer listing Boston as a plausible landing spot for Howard is a story certain to have major interest here at the local level. Thursday, CSNNE jumped on the ball and posted a headline guaranteed to generate page clicks:
Report: Celtics a potential destination for Howard
Now there's nothing factually incorrect about the statement, but there is something inherently icky about it. I read that headline and envision a reporter with a microphone being told by someone with real information that Houston might deal Howard to Boston--not a writer just making his case for why he believes it's a good idea.
And once one media outlet covers something, the rest have to also, because they don't want to be the ones missing out. Friday morning, the following headline appeared on Boston.com:
Morning Sports Update: Is Boston the top destination for Dwight Howard?
Again, there's nothing technically inaccurate since it's posing a question. I could post a blog tomorrow with the title "Is James Young a better shooter than Steph Curry?" and not be wrong because I phrased it as a question. However, the above headline makes me think that not only is Howard definitely on the market, but that the Celtics are more advanced in trade talks/closer to acquiring him than any other team.
This is how the wild wild west of the internet works with NBA rumors--it's like a game of kids playing telephone. What you end up with isn't even close to where you started, which was often something the first person made up to begin with.
The funny thing is, in this case it all circled back to Pelton, who's tweet Friday night pointed out a key piece of overlooked information:
Seeing that I ranked Boston the top Dwight Howard trade destination. Teams were simply ordered alphabetically: https://t.co/O1Nx7SrsAc (In)— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) December 18, 2015
While he's at it, Pelton should also tweet something like: "Guys, calm down! This was just an idea I had, one of many! It's not real news!"
Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan Mark Van Deusen 12/19/2015 03:24:00 PM Tweet Edit