A Twitter Leak Scuttled An NBA Draft Day Trade This Year

from the the-power-of-tweet dept

It's probably well known at this point that major professional sports leagues have a strange relationship with Twitter. On the one hand, many leagues use the social media site quite well when it comes to sharing highlights and getting their brands out there in front of people. Major League Baseball is particularly good at this, although the NBA is not terribly far behind. On the other hand, these leagues have been known to adopt quite restrictive policies when it comes to who can share what on Twitter. This is especially the case on league draft days. For instance, the NFL insists that its broadcast partners, such as ESPN and the NFL Network, not allow their journalists to tweet out draft picks on draft day before they are announced on television. The league obviously wants as many eyeballs tuned into the drama on television as it can muster and has theorized that making TV the first place to get draft picks announced will help with that.

For anyone that follows sports on Twitter, this is obviously a very, very stupid theory. Many sports journalists are not working for ESPN and NFL Network, and they quite happily inform followers of draft picks before they are announced based on their sources. This is how journalism works.

But it was probably a unique event at the NBA draft the other night that a Twitter scoop actually caused one NBA team to back out of an agreed-upon trade.

Atlanta Hawks GM Travis Schlenk told San Francisco radio station 95.7 The Game this morning that he had a deal in place with the Milwaukee Bucks to move up from the 19th pick to the 17th. The Hawks knew they wanted one of two players—including Maryland shooting guard Kevin Huerter—and were sufficiently convinced that the Bucks and the Spurs (at 18) would take the two guys. So they were prepared to part with future picks in order to move up two spots and get one of their guys.

However, Schlenk said that the deal became unnecessary because Shams Charania reported that the Bucks were going to take Donte DiVincenzo, who was, apparently, not one of the two they wanted. Pick tipping is not just helpful for fans, it turns out.

My first reaction is Schlenk is good at his job, having his team monitor Twitter for this kind of intel. If sources are willing to share another team's intentions on draft night with a journalist who is all too happy to tweet that information out, it only makes sense for Schlenk to want to slurp that information up and let it inform his draft day choices.

But my second reaction is one of worry that the NBA will catch wind of this and absolutely freak the hell out. Leagues as big as the NBA almost can't help themselves when it comes to this kind of thing. The idea that a trade was scuttled due to great reporting and the tipping of a pick almost certainly isn't going to sit well with Commissioner Adam Silver and it feels quite impossible that no action over this will be taken by the league.

If the end result is the NBA trying to lock things down a la the NFL, that would be unfortunate and ultimately ineffective. If they take the much more likely action of trying to cut off access to sports journalists from teams on draft day, that would be worse for fans, for its teams, and for its own marketability. Here's hoping Silver, who is relatively forward-thinking, keeps a cooler head than I fear.


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Jun 2018 @ 1:52pm

    If we keep our heads in the sand we can ignore that not all journalists work for the big companies, that information will obey our blackout until its on TV policy, and that our fans will enjoy waiting for a tv show that requires them to stop their entire life to watch rather than find out the few things they actually care about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jun 2018 @ 8:59am

      Re:

      blackout until its on TV policy

      Why not just air the thing live, if that's their worry? It's so obvious I'm surprised the story doesn't mention it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2018 @ 2:07pm

    The league could also do nothing and allow strategic misinformation and bluffing be part of teams draft strategy. Perhaps even add a 3 day window where agreements are non-binding to allow for strategic betrayals between coaches that could help drive in game rivalry and drama. Agreements signed outside the window would obviously be binding contracts but anything inked between three days before the draft and the end of the draft would only be a gentleman's agreement that becomes binding at the end of the draft if it isn't repudiated before then.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NaBUru38 (profile), 29 Jun 2018 @ 6:17am

    As Adrian Wojnarowski is working for ESPN, he used euphemisms for his Woj bombs on Twitter: "sources claim X team is close to sign player A".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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