Monday, June 22, 2009

Not A Baseless Rumor Yet, But Should Be

I am announcing the launch of my new ongoing feature "Not a Baseless Rumor Yet, But Should Be."

Nothing brings out the misinformation, disinformation and just plain wrong information like draft season.

Here's the thing: What's wrong with rumors? Regardless of where they come from, they are -- wait for it -- fun. Fun for fans. Fodder for sports media.

And, let's not forget, team execs and player agents traffic in rumors as their freaking job -- planting most of what's out there as a way to manipulate things to their advantage.

I loved this piece by the NYT's Howard Beck about the NBA Mock Draft scene -- it features Chad Ford (one of my favorite people in all of sports media) and Jonathan Givony (another great guy, and founder of the top NBA-draft-specific site on the Web).

The best part was the way that the draftniks totally acknowledge that mock drafts are -- wait for it -- for fun. (Imagine any of the NFL mock-drafters acknowledging anything remotely close to that -- and it diminishes the NFL draftnik's credibility to NOT admit mocks are a mockery.)

Ford and Givony's actual news-breaking (and, yes, rumor/information-spreading) is what matters. It is -- and this is not meant pejoratively at all -- fertilizer for a great draft experience for everyone.

But mock drafts are great, even vital. To consider them gospel is insane. But they have their important role in the pre-draft process. And they give us a baseline to talk about the draft.

In the end, to use a single mock draft is insane. And to combine draft positions is totally useless -- it's not a fantasy draft; each team has specific needs that aren't reflected in the uber-mocks.

No, the way to go is to read through all of the information, misinformation and disinformation, then try to tease out what is being said betwen the lines. (It would help if we knew who was feeding the draftniks their info -- is it the GM, the freelance scout, the agent, who?)

Mark Cuban had this ludicrous idea that ESPN should blacklist any blogs that traffic in faulty rumors. First of all, teams and agents do more to undermine the rumor mill than any media outlet. And the blogs are fed by the -- yes -- mainstream media, whose closer ties to the team front-office execs and agents make them more susceptible to print WHATEVER. After all, they got it "on the record." (Even if the source is unnamed.) So bloggers are hardly the problem. And even if a blogger is going to make up a rumor, isn't it the NBA reporter's DAY JOB to understand what is worth pursuing and what isn't? If they're following bad info, that's their own problem -- and their editor's. But no one ever got fired for generating page views following sketchy intel.

Anyway, back to my new feature: Not A Baseless Rumor Yet, But Should Be.

I keep reading how T'wolves GM David Kahn wants to make this big splash in the draft. I even heard he wants to try to grab the Wizards' No. 5 pick and package it with the No. 6 to move up to the Grizzlies' No. 2 spot. Now, nevermind that the 5/6 is probably better for a struggling team than the No. 2 player this year (whoever that might be), but the T'wolves want to do something dramatic. So here's a scenario (and yes, baseless!):

The T'wolves trade Kevin Love to the Wizards for the No. 5 pick -- and whatever salaries need to be moved to make it work. The T'wolves get the 5/6 combo to trade up with the Grizzlies, where they take Hasheem Thabeet. Al Jefferson gets to go back to playing PF, where he was overlapping with Kevin Love anyway. The T'wolves get their "splash."

The Wizards get a player who, among sophomores, is among the most ready to contribute to an NBA playoff contender right now. And the Wizards could use the help in the post. Oh, yeah, and Love throws the best NBA outlet pass since... well, since DC's own Wes Unseld.

With the 5th and 6th pick, the Grizzlies could take Jordan Hill -- a big active PF to pair next to Marc Gasol -- and then their pick of PGs, perhaps even Stephen Curry, who would look fantastic next to OJ Mayo (and even Mike Conley). Or Memphis could continue to trade down with teams obsessed with Hill (Dallas) or Curry (New York).

Again: Not A Baseless Rumor Yet...But Should Be!

How can you NOT love the rumor-mongering, mock-drafting, disinformation-disseminating that goes on this week?

-- D.S.

No comments: