Vince Carter to the Warriors!
Not really. But after years of reading crappy NBA coverage, I think I've figured out how to cover breaking news like professional writers Sam Smith or Peter Vecsey. It's a pretty easy job and can be pulled off in five easy steps.
Step 1: React to Rumblings - For weeks, Sean Williams of the Nets has been wanting to get out of Jersey. Now word is leaking out of Golden St. that Marco Bellineli might be getting trade to New Jersey. Perfect. We now have a trade rumor between Golden St. and New Jersey.
Step 2: Commotion over Common Sense: While the initial reaction to the aforementioned rumblings would be to think that Wiliams and Bellineli are getting traded for one another, that simply isn't the kind of deal that would get people fired up. It's not going to sell newspapers or get people to click on the article. And that, not actually reporting what's going on, is the purpose of most modern sports writing.
We need to find a marquee player to get people's attention. In this case, Vince Carter would seem to be the best bet. We can support our fictional report because everyone assumes that Vince is going to be on the move as the Nets are looking to get rid of his contract. Even better, Al Harrington is on the outs in Golden State and, whaddayaknow, his deal ends before the big 2010 free agent class. I love it when a plan comes together.
Step 3: RealGM > Real Journalism: Now we can do one of two things: call or e-mail someone in the Nets and Warriors front offices to get a comment OR we could just go to RealGm and make up a trade on our own. Most journalism would require some sort of legwork or confirmation but in sports you can just get away with slapping the "rumor" tag on any old BS and it's fit to print. Another way to make the story seem less trumped up is to open the article with a question. This covers up the fact that the entire story was basically conjured up out of thin air; we're not pulling it out of our ass, we're politely answering a question.
Step 4: Remember Your Purpose: Once at RealGM, most people's rational inclination is to find a deal that makes sense for both teams. That is wrong. The purpose you are trying to serve is the rumor and only the rumor. As long as you can find one single reason why a deal COULD happen, all of the other obvious or realistic reasons against it are null and void. After all, we're just passing along a rumor, right?
In this case, we have Vince on one side and Bellinelli and Al Harrington on the other. Now we have to make the salaries work. As luck would have it, Stephen Jackson has a deal that fits both the amount and years we need. Ignore the fact that Jackson is the leader of the Warriors team; the Warriors should want to bring in an All-Star like Carter. Who doesn't want an All-Star? So Jackson, Harrington, Bellineli for Vince Carter and Sean Williams.
We can do better than that though. Let's throw in Brandan Wright as well since he isn't getting a ton of playing time. Wright might not seem like a great addition because the Nets just acquired Yi Jianlian but... wait a second, aren't there a lot of Asians in the Bay Area? SOLD!
Step 5: Write it up: In this case, we don't want a catchy headline. The only time you need one of those is when you're reporting a story that every other paper/site has as well or when you need to be misleading in order to make a big deal about a non-story. Something like, "Are the Patriots no longer Brady's bunch?" as the lead to a story about how Kyle Brady won't be back with the Patriots this year. Also, it's always good to drop as many names in there as possible so that the article might pop up in Google searches. This also helps your fellow sportswriters make up their own trades as they can now say that the other players were "mentioned in trade rumors" even if said references were completely off hand and had nothing to do with the actual rumor that was being discussed.
So what did we end up with?
VINCE CARTER TO THE WARRIORS?
Is the Bay Area ready for Vinsanity? They might have to be. Trade rumors are swirling around the Warriors and Nets and a deal could be imminent. With the Nets looking to dump Vince Carter's contract and the Warriors holding two players (Al Harrington & Stephen Jackson) with deals that end before the 2010 offseason, it seems like a match made in Heaven. Carter gives the Warriors a superstar to replace the recently departed Baron Davis while Jackson and Harrington will help the Nets clear even more cap space so they can make a run at soon-to-be free agents LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh.
Vince Carter might be the big name but he's not the only former first rounder that could be switching teams. The Warriors' Marco Bellinelli and Brandan Wright might be swapping jerseys with New Jersey's Yi Jianlian and Sean Williams as part of this blockbuster deal. Jianlian, countryman of Houston's Yao Ming, is better suited to Don Nelson's perimeter offense than Brandan Wright, who the Warriors acquired last year in a draft day deal for Jason Richardson. Bellineli was a summer league superstar but that success hasn't translated into regular season minutes. He has been looking for a way out, as had the frustrated Williams, who is no relation to Utah's Deron Williams, Philly's Louis Williams, Atlanta's Marvin Williams, Cleveland's Mo and Jawad Williams, or Golden State's Marcus Williams. (He also shouldn't be confused with Shawne Williams, currently a teammate of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd in Dallas).
The particulars of the deal are still being sorted out but don't be surprised if you hear something going down between these two teams as soon as next week.
And there you have it, this is how 90% of NBA rumors are born.