Two crucial facts to keep in mind during the NBA trade deadline

Hello, NBA fan friend.

I hope you’re well. Did you rest up during All-Star weekend? We only have two months left before the start of the postseason, after all; you’re going to need all your energy come May and June.

But first, we have to get through the NBA trade deadline — together, as a team.

You’re going to hear a lot of nonsense over the next 24 hours, and I’m not just talking about the fact the Pelicans somehow managed to acquire DeMarcus Cousins for next to nothing. Before Thursday ends, nearly every superstar on the planet will be linked to a trade with one team or another. Is Paul George headed to the Lakers? Jimmy Butler to the Celtics? Heck, how about Iman Shumpert to the Houston Rockets?

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It’s a lot for anyone to process, and if you’re not glued to Twitter 24/7, you might get lost in the whirlwind. So here are two things you have to keep in mind when reading these rumors that will help you keep your sanity.

First, every single leaked trade rumor happens for a reason. No matter how reasonable the idea, someone is pushing their agenda by leaking the trade proposal to the public. Maybe it’s a team trying to drive up the price for their star asset. Maybe it’s an agent letting teams know their client is available, despite a franchise’s protestations to the contrary. Maybe a team is testing its own employees to see how trustworthy they are — or how leaky the organization is. Or maybe it’s a rival executive trying to paint a potential trade partner as just being so, so stupid.

Regardless of the motive, nothing happens in a vacuum during trade season. When you hear, see or read a rumor, then, take a moment to ask yourself: “Who benefits from the public knowing about this?” Once you answer that question, you’ll be in much better position to analyze whether a rumor is a viable discussion or something someone leaked to advance their own interests.

Second, most trade rumors reported as, “Two teams have discussed … ” are actually dead trades that have no chance of happening. In those instances, a team employee will mention off the cuff they talked with another squad about a potential switch, and that information ends up in the public sphere. While some actual trades are reported in the midst of their discussions, pay attention to the tense reporters are using in breaking news. There’s a big difference between teams “talking” a trade and having “talked” a trade.

With those two caveats, you’re ready to defend against the slings and arrows of NBA trade season. Enjoy.