New Rules for the NBA Free Agency Rumor Mill

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On Friday, I was relaxed, enjoying the wrap up of a beach vacation with my wife, sitting under an umbrella with the clear, green waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico stretched out in front of me. And my spirits were high as I continued to watch reports of the Rockets preparing to sign Chris Bosh now that LeBron James had chosen to return to Cleveland. All the dominoes were falling into place, the sun was shining and Twitter was buzzing with news, rumors and speculation.

Of course, now it's Monday and I'm back working, my vacation gone and the Rockets staring at the backside of a brutal weekend that saw them not only lose out on Bosh, but be forced to pass on matching a contract offer to Chandler Parsons, who will end up in, of all places, Dallas.

This was a tough reminder of how complicated and frustrating the offseason in sports can be, particularly in the NBA. So, I came up with a list of guidelines to help protect you from yourself this year and in years to come.

It's not over until it's over.

If the Bosh debacle taught us anything, it is that the old adage of not counting on something until the ink is dry is absolutely true. Despite numerous reports from legitimate and trusted sources to the contrary, Bosh didn't sign with Houston. Some now believe he and/or his agent may have been playing the Rockets in order to get more money from Miami. Even if that is true, it underscores just how important it is to get confirmation and resolution before believing it's a done deal.

Media doesn't always know...unless it's Woj.

I saw so many people online say that LeBron couldn't possibly return to Cleveland after what had happened between he and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, particularly since the two hadn't even met to discuss it. Gilbert had, after all, not been in Miami recently and LeBron hadn't been to Cleveland. Turns out, they met in Las Vegas and ironed everything out without anyone knowing. Even NBA scoop guru Adrian Wojnarowski didn't have that information.

Just because someone says it doesn't make it true.

Lots of people claim to be experts and insiders, but rarely is that completely true. Sure, there are guys who are plugged into the inner workings of the NBA, but even they are only right about half the time. People change their minds. Things change, sometimes rapidly. Until it comes directly from the source, it can't be trusted 100 percent. Rumors are simply that until they are proven otherwise. We'll never know the whole truth.

Despite a few slips here and there, professional athletes are extremely media savvy. And they have teams of people including an entire league there to help protect them from mistakes online and prevent us from knowing everything that goes on behind the scenes. This is not just for their benefit, but for ours. The vast majority of us don't want the curtain thrown back. We don't want the wizard revealed. Being in the dark is what makes the whole thing exciting and keeps us from seeing the dirty secrets that might curb our enthusiasm for the sport.

Money matters and should.

Whenever I read people complain about how a player took the money over the chance to succeed, I say, "Well, so would I." Ultimately, no matter how much we may revere sports, they are just games. The money players make not only impacts them, but perhaps generations of their family to come. They have short careers that can be wrecked by injury. Fans and teams are fickle. Players should absolutely do what they can to put themselves in the best financial position possible. We can't simultaneously defend capitalism and decry these guys from benefitting from it.

Twitter is your best friend and your mortal enemy.

Nothing has changed breaking news, particularly in sports, like Twitter. It is the modern day version of the teletype machine, delivering a nearly constant stream of information to fans. But, it is also a vicious rumor mill, complete with fake accounts, misinformation and heartbreaking peaks and valleys. It is a necessary tool of anyone interested in keeping up with the NBA, especially in the offseason, but it can also be a cruel mistress.

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