Ever since Anthony Davis was lost until (probably) at least the All-Star break with his re-aggravated Achilles injury, the internet has been more abuzz than normal with a thirst for Lakers trade rumors or speculation about who the team could target as a short-term replacement on the buyout market. We’ve even dove into the topic on this very site.
But there is a difference between speculation and analysis, and whatever the hell happened on Wednesday, when both traditional journalists who should know better and aggregators alike started linking the Lakers to players more definitively than they should be based on the public reporting.
It started with Marc Berman of the New York Post, who wrote this as an aside in his column linking the New York Knicks to Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba (emphasis mine):
Bamba is in and out of the rotation, playing in just 12 games this season. Bamba is 22 and the Knicks looked to trade up in that draft to get the former Texas Longhorns star. The Lakers also reportedly have interest.
Now, because old-school journos are for some reason allergic to showing where they got stuff, there is no hyperlink to the reports Berman is referencing there, but the word “reportedly” means that it’s not his own reporting. That did not stop multiple websites from aggregating the aside as if it was being presented as new reporting by Berman.
But what reports was he referencing? After some googling, the only articles I could find linking the Lakers and Bamba from before Berman’s column were a few blogs aggregating the opinion of a Bleacher Report writer Zach Buckley, who wrote that the Lakers should consider Bamba, but — as you can see — did no actual reporting saying they were pursuing him in any way:
If he’s available for cheap, the Lakers should make the phone call. He probably won’t help for this championship run—though maybe his length alone would add something in the right matchup—but maybe he could blossom in a way that contributes to a later one. If the Lakers have dynasty dreams, they’ll need more up-and-comers to travel through the pipelines, and this might be the path to a bargain blue-chipper.
Now, did a New York Post NBA columnist get duped by a few headlines and do no other digging? I can’t say for certain, but it wasn’t the only case of NBA Trade Rumors Telephone being played on Thursday. There was also this clip (and tweet) from the Chicago Bulls’ local postgame show:
The Los Angeles Lakers are interested in Denzel Valentine pic.twitter.com/Y2wSgrbiBj— Gustavo (@iamvega1982) February 18, 2021
Here is the notable part of that exchange:
“I talked to Dan Woike (of the L.A. Times) on the podcast a few weeks ago about the Clippers and the Lakers, and he mentioned that the Lakers are interested, or were interested in Denzel Valentine last year, and they’re going to be interested this year.”
Now, that sounds like definitive (albeit secondhand) reporting, right? The only problem is that it’s not at all what Woike said, and I don’t need an anonymous source to tell me that:
Yeah, that’s what I said - that he was a good enough shooter/passer that he COULD be a fit https://t.co/lWHhzneF98— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 18, 2021
And as we all know, in trade deadline reporting parlance, “could” is not the same as “they are interested,” so that’s a second rumor on the day going bust.
Does any of this mean that the Lakers will never be interested in these guys? Absolutely not. Maybe they put in an offer for either player before the trade deadline on March 25. Just don’t aggregate me saying so, because there is no reporting behind that statement. Let’s all just wait until there is before we go too crazy.
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