Sam Smith, the Chicago Bulls beat writer 1 answers a question I’ve long wondered about: namely, who comes up the wacky trade rumors, most of which have no basis in reality? Who benefits?
I always wondered how trade “rumors” begin. Are 99% of what we hear really started at the water cooler or some bored journalist? Do pro-ball teams have a representative that reports to the media every time they are considering a deal? How can all these “reports” out there even get out in the first place? For example, “Lakers are said to offer Lamar Odom to the Timberwolves for the No. 2 pick.” – How would this info get out? Do GM’s have a private line or access to every other GM in the league or a yellow pages of sort where just they have access, call them up and talk shop? Are their phones tapped? Someone under the desk listening with a notepad? Are any offers emailed through today to other GM’s? I’ve been caught up in draft day, free agency periods the last 30 years and I am finally just too damn curious how this entire process works. If anyone can explain this the right way to us all, it’s got to be you.
Sam: You have come to the right place. I even had an owner ask me this a few days ago when one of his players was mentioned in a deal and he said no one on his staff discussed it with anyone. There are some that start badly as you say, with a couple of guys talking and “what if” becomes “I hear.” That’s tremendously irresponsible, but there are some major web sites these days which basically have a policy never to admit a mistake and just publish denials, as if that covers them. Plus, it has become a bit of a game to report something with the idea that this is just entertainment reporting and for discussion so what’s the harm? There are two ways most rumors begin and one problem is the pressure many media people are under for these internet scoops with the constant refresh button issue. Often a team will call another and propose something, like Odom for Love and No. 2. The other team laughs and says how about Kobe and Pau for Darko. And that’s that. But then some scout who heard it in their office tells someone “can you believe the Lakers asked for this?” And technically it is true that is was “discussed.”
For some media people to get “hits” in this era that’s enough as it is true that it was “talked about.”
The evil underside is agents. That’s where much of the ugly stuff comes from. What some of these guys do is leak stuff to reporters in an attempt to embarrass a competitor. So then they pursue their client and tell him that if he changes agents things will be better. Though, after all, it is just discussion. And by now, really, most players and fans have come to understand often it just good talk and talk radio type discussion. The truth also is teams routinely ask other teams about basically everyone on their roster to try to determine the worth of their own players. I have no doubt, for example, the Bulls have mentioned to other teams everyone but Rose to get an idea what the player’s value might be. That goes on all year, and what the reporting really shows is how few of these talks ever really get out as opposed to you thinking so many do.
(click here to continue reading Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 06.24.11 | Bulls.)
- and former Chicago Tribune star [↩]