The best (and worst) NBA rumors of 2013: An ode to trade season

USA TODAY Sports

As we say goodbye to another frantic deadline in the Internet age, let's take one look back at some of the more hilarious rumors we discussed this year.

Farewell, NBA trade season. For the umpteenth straight year, you took us on a helluva ride, with rumors flying at a dizzying pace; sources telling some truths, some half-truths and some outright lies; and only a few trades that mostly came out of nowhere actually being completed.

This is how it has to be when you're talking about potentially uprooting human beings from their current homes while they are conducting their jobs, but for us consumers, it's all a little silly in retrospect. We've reached the point where there are so many rumors flying at us for so many different reasons that it's difficult to really separate good information from bad. I don't blame reporters as much as most -- they're just serving our increasingly-overwhelming appetite for sports nuggets -- but certainly some contribute by passing along everything they hear without vetting it through other sources or themselves.

(Note to reporters: I know how hard it is to vet information this time of year and generally think everyone does as good a job as they can, with some exceptions. I don't envy you guys. It's a very difficult job at a very difficult time of the year.).

We all get roped into preparing for the impending hurricane, then sit back as it often turns out to be a measly tropical storm. (Though in recent years, maybe the better analogy is that we prepare for a hurricane and instead get an earthquake; i.e. a different kind of disaster that's equally devastating).

In any event, now that the trade deadline has passed, it gives us an opportunity to look back at some of the rumors that should make us laugh in retrospect. Without further ado, here's our first-ever Trade Deadline Rumor Awards:

BEST SEQUENCE, DEADLINE DAY, J.J. REDICK DIVISION

The J.J. Redick sweepstakes got heated on Thursday, to the point where teams were dropping in and out within hours, at least according to those who are plugged-in with these rumors. For example, take this string of tweets from ESPN's Chris Broussard:

That was sent out at 8:40 a.m. Detroit and Washington had not been mentioned in any Redick rumors to this point. Either their interest was never reported, last-minute or non-existant. We'll never really know.

Two and a half hours later, we got this:

That was quick.

But it wasn't as quick as San Antonio's demise. Consider these four tweets from Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, all sent in a span of less than two hours:

And, of course, within that two-hour span. Wojnarowski also reported this:

Less than three hours later, Bucks GM John Hammond was finalizing a deal to acquire Redick.

BEST SEQUENCE, DEADLINE DAY, NON-J.J. REDICK DIVISION

For a brief moment, Tyreke Evans was available, thanks mostly to this revelation by Sacramento Bee Kings beat writer Jason Jones:

This spurred a number of follow-up rumors that suggested the Celtics were interested. Twenty-eight minutes later ...

So that was fun. In fairness, nobody has any idea what's going on in Sacramento right now.

BEST SEQUENCE, JOSH SMITH DIVISION

Too many to count.

BEST SEQUENCE, PRE-DEADLINE DAY, RUDY GAY DIVISION

The Grizzlies' attempts to generate leverage in a Rudy Gay trade scenario prior to dealing him to the Toronto Raptors were hilariously transparent.

First, let's note the original Gay trade rumor that had him going to Phoenix, via Wojnarowski:

The Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns are engaged in trade talks centered on forward Rudy Gay, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Grizzlies have been shopping Gay to multiple teams, and found an interested trade partner with the Suns, sources said.

There's no framework of a possible deal in place, but the Grizzlies have expressed a strong desire that any package involving Gay include Suns forward Jared Dudley and future first-round draft picks, sources said.

No big deal: an opening offer, clearly marked as such. But then, this came out a couple weeks later, via Ric Bucher:

Source with a team interested in Rudy Gay: the Gay-for-Jared Dudley/Michael Beasley deal was leaked in order to generate more offers from around the league. The response when other GMs heard about the offer was, "Hey, we can do better than that."

Whoops!

But that wasn't quite as transparent as the time the Grizzlies tried to convince the world that the Wizards wanted to deal Bradley Beal. From Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal:

The message to Gay at the moment is that if he is dealt by the league's Feb. 21 trade deadline, then the Griz will have been offered a no-brainer scenario.

For example, the Griz have entertained the Washington Wizards' offer for Gay. The crux of that exchange would have the Griz receiving rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal in a larger package.

Let's just say the Wizards and Beal's representatives moved to deny that one very quickly. These two lines came out within 12 hours after the Commercial-Appeal report, via Michael Lee of The Washington Post:

The Memphis Commercial-Appeal reported Monday that the Grizzlies have "entertained" an offer from the Wizards that would include Beal in a larger package."I've talked to both teams. There is absolutely nothing to it," Bartelstein said.

"The Wizards have made it very clear that they are not moving Brad Beal."

A source with knowledge of the Wizards' thinking called the report of the team offering Beal, "100 percent not true."

Finally, in an attempt to show that they might actually want to keep Gay, the Grizzlies tried floating another one of their stars:

The Rockets' starting lineup, after the trade deadline deal for Thomas Robinson, averages 23.6 years old and combines to make under $35 million in salary. If they really "loved" Randolph, Daryl Morey is far dumber than I thought.

In the end, nobody fell for the misdirection play and the Grizzlies were forced to settle for Tayshaun Price, Ed Davis and Austin Daye for Gay.

BEST SEQUENCE, PRE-DEADLINE DAY, NON-RUDY GAY DIVISION

I'm cheating a bit here, because both of these are in the two days before Thursday's trade deadline, but they still amused me.

First, it's always fun when reporters have conflicting information on the same story. On Wednesday night, FOX Sports' Sam Amico put this out there:

That went out at 10:19 p.m. EST. Within the next 30, the following happened:

The Gordon-for-Humphries swap indeed didn't happen, and there was no retraction or clarification on Amico's feed.

On a more humorous note, this was what the HoopsWorld live blog looked like on Tuesday:

Screen_shot_2013-02-20_at_12

Might want to find a story to break that up, you guys.

WORST LIES

NBA GMs, owners, players, coaches and agents all have to lie to reporters to preserve a simple public stance, but when the team's action ends up directly contradicting what they say, it's amusing. Here are my two favorite examples:

First, from Real GM:

Some across the league believe Prince, at 32 years old, and the Pistons would be smart to move on from each other. Nevertheless, Prince is assured the Pistons won't field trade offers for him, and the two sides have "never" discussed dealing Prince, agent Bill Duffy told RealGM.

Prince, of course, got dealt for Gay.

Second, here's Mark Cuban to ESPN Dallas in early January:

"We're letting everybody know that the "Bank of Cuban" is open," Cuban said Monday night, a couple of days after declaring that there was a "100 percent chance" the Mavs would aggressively pursue trade opportunities before the Feb. 21 deadline."

I can't speak to what trades the Mavericks pursued, but the bank clearly wasn't open for long if the only move was to trade Dahntay Jones for Anthony Morrow.

THE FIVE CRAZIEST TRADE RUMORS OF THE SEASON

CBS Sports' Ken Berger:

However, CBSSports.com has learned that the Lakers have engaged in preliminary trade discussions with an unlikely trade partner regarding Howard: their fierce rival, the Boston Celtics. The centerpieces of the possible deal, which hasn't gained any traction, would be Howard and Rajon Rondo.

HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy:

While the Knicks have weighed several minor deals that would bring in a veteran role player -- such as Jared Dudley, J.J. Redick or Luke Ridnour -- they have also been gauging interest in an Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert package, according to sources. The Knicks are shopping this package in an attempt to land a significant player. One player that they'd like to pry loose is Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks, according to a league source. While it's admittedly unlikely, it's a rumor that has floated around in recent days.

It's a deal that makes sense for New York. A trade of Stoudemire and Shumpert for Smith and a filler such as Zaza Pachulia, for example, would work under the cap. The Knicks get a big-time player and suddenly, they have the talent to contend for a championship this year (and for years to come if they can re-sign Smith this summer).

CSN New England's A Sherrod Blakely:

The Oregonian's Joe Freeman, reporting some unnamed reporter's rumor:

During the Blazers' recent homestand, a respected and veteran beat reporter approached me and told me that an assistant coach for the team he covered said the Blazers are shopping LaMarcus Aldridge.

I chuckled, because earlier that night, I spoke with Olshey about the trading deadline, which is now eight weeks away. In a nutshell, Olshey said the Blazers will likely be built through the draft and free agency, not trades -- and certainly not mid-season trades.

Still, on Wednesday before the Kings game, I felt obliged to corner the whirlwind that is Olshey.

I asked him directly if he is shopping Aldridge.

It was as if I had told Olshey the best joke he had ever heard. In fact, I think he is still laughing as I write this.

And the leader in the clubhouse: Real GM's Jarrod Rudolph:

According to sources, King was planning to contact the Minnesota Timberwolves in order to gauge their interest in a three-team trade that would send Kevin Love to the Lakers, Brook Lopez to the Timberwolves and Dwight Howard to the Nets. Other small pieces would need to be included, but the proposed trade was thought to be intriguing enough to start conversations in the Lakers front office that would force them to deal with Howard earlier than planned.

That idea, however, was hurt when Love was sidelined 8-10 weeks with a broken hand. The Nets believed the Lakers would be interested in Love, but not an injured Love, even if they're facing missing the playoffs, according to sources.

FINALLY: WHEN REPORTING A RUMOR GOES WRONG

The first lesson of reporting a trade rumor: make sure it's clear that you're reporting a trade rumor. This is not how to do it, Chris Sheridan:

The NBA trade deadline journalism racket is a tricky minefield to navigate. The business is driven by rumors, many of which are founded in truth, others of which are utterly fictitious.

Distinguishing between the two differentiates the good basketball Web sites from the bad sites.

But figuring out who is available is not rocket science if you speak to the right people, and I speak to a lot of plugged-in people on a regular basis.

Here is the latest they are telling me: The San Antonio Spurs are the front-runners to land Al Jefferson in a trade with the Utah Jazz -- and they are frontrunners like Secretariat was in the 1973 Belmont Stakes.

The Spurs, of course, didn't trade for Jefferson. It really wouldn't have made sense either, because San Antonio is the league's best team and would be trading significant assets to land a potential rental. With big salaries for Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili on the books, expecting the small-market to add another long-term one in Jefferson was expecting a lot. Jefferson's also a straight low-post player that struggled once in Jerry Sloan's motion-heavy system prior to his retirement and would similarly struggle in San Antonio.

Did the Spurs and Jazz talk about Jefferson? One would think. But clearly, those talks never got serious. Now, Sheridan's first three paragraphs look pretty silly.

More in the NBA:

Ziller's NBA trade deadline winners and losers

Grading every deadline deal

Stephen Jackson's emotional return after losing unborn child

Lakers not done making moves?

Flannery: Celtics leave tomorrow in the future

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