Nov 24, 2020 - Sports

When athletes find out about trades on Twitter

Illustration of the twitter logo speaking in the ear of a basketball player

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There's a new tradition in sports: finding out you've been traded on social media.

The latest: Ricky Rubio found out he'd been traded by the Suns last week while scrolling Twitter at his home in Barcelona, he told The Athletic.

  • Kelly Oubre found out he'd been dealt after a workout at the Suns' facility.
  • "I just see people looking at me with like a glare in their eyes," he said. "I was like, hmm. And then Cheick Diallo was like, 'Hey, my boy, check Twitter.'"

Between the lines: In an ideal world, players first hear the news from their team or agent, but the lightning-fast social media news cycle makes that difficult.

  • Most NBA trades involve a bunch of people, ranging from GMs and coaches to scouts and "capologists," who specialize in salary-cap and trade rules.
  • News of the trade often leaks to the media before teams can inform the players themselves, which can lead to some awkward exchanges.
  • Sign of the times: In 2010, Vince Carter found out he was being traded through the ESPN ticker, a service that social media has essentially replaced.
"The first time I found out was over social media, but I was cool with that. My friend texted me and said, 'You going to Memphis?' He texted me Adrian Wojnarowski's tweet."
— Garrett Temple, via

The big picture: In addition to being the place where athletes learn about trades, social media is also increasingly where they go to request or angle for one.

  • Yannick Ngakoue got into a public feud with Jaguars co-owner Tony Khan in April, tweeting a clown emoji at him and telling him to "stop hiding" and "just trade me." Four months later, he got his wish.
  • Carlos Dunlap tweeted his way out of Cincinnati last month, publicly calling out the coaching staff and listing his house for sale on Twitter. A few days later, he was dealt to the Seahawks.

The bottom line: Athletes are frequently traded from workplace to workplace, often without their immediate knowledge. It's a unique reality, made all the more absurd when life-changing news is delivered in 280 characters.

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