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Are You Serious? A Ringer Special Investigation

NBA players and personnel are making cryptic comments left and right. We break out the corkboard to probe the sincerity of their statements.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

NBA players tweet. NBA executives tweet, too. In the dead period between the NBA Finals and the draft, said tweets are clung to desperately in the hopes that they can be used as clues to what will happen in July’s free agency. If LeBron James favorites a New York Times recipe for Philly cheesesteaks with a modern twist (it’s peas!), it’s easy to connect the dots: He’s joining the Sixers. Or if Paul George follows the Fortnite account, whose creative director, Darren Sugg, went to Marist College, which is in Poughkeepsie, New York — plot twist: Paul’s going to the other coast. Kawhi doesn’t have Twitter, which you’d think would be the end of that. But since Twitter makes people unhappy over time, and Kawhi isn’t on Twitter, does it really mean that he’s happy … in San Antonio??? Makes you think.

Then there are tweets that are so obvious they feel like a combination of a smack in the face and the last two and a half minutes of a Law & Order: SVU episode. For example, here’s a tweet that Damian Lillard sent out in the late hours of June 12:

“Careful what they wish for” gives off “I might demand a trade” vibes. But half the time, I think the most active NBA tweeters are just toying with fans. Unless it’s Joel Embiid, in which case, it’s all the time. But what if they aren’t? Let’s investigate cryptic tweets by players/personnel on NBA Twitter and ask these three questions:

1. Does this person have a history of joking?
2. Does this person have a history of being extremely serious on Twitter?
3. Is there any evidence this person is being serious with this tweet?

With this line of inquiry, we’ll answer the most important offseason Twitter question of all: Is he serious?

The Case of Damian Lillard

“Careful what you wish for” is what Person A says to Person B when Person B thinks they wants something, but might actually find they don’t want it once they have it. In Lillard’s case, it feels like a threat. (Though, with three years left on his contract, Portland doesn’t have to trade him.) So:

1. Does this person have a history of joking/does this person have fun?

I searched “@Dame_Lillard” and “haha” on Twitter all the way back to the new year and found nothing, but when I swapped out “haha” with “lol” one tweet from the Finals came up: “Wow lol.” So we know he’s laughed in the past two weeks.

A search for “lmao” also produced results, but sadly nothing appeared for “lmfao” or “LMFAOOOOO,” so the degree to which he has fun is up for debate.

2. Does this person have a history of being extremely serious on Twitter?

Yes! My favorite example ties in nicely with the one in question. On June 20 of last year, Lillard and Portland reporter Dwight Jaynes were Twitter beefing over no team having a chance to beat Golden State. Jaynes said it only made sense for franchises to wait it out; Lillard argued that other teams (like Portland, which kicked off the conversation) were capable of knocking off the Warriors.

3. Is there any evidence this person is being serious with this tweet?

Lillard met with Blazers owner Paul Allen in January. ESPN reported that Allen was scared Lillard was going to ask for a trade.

Ruling: Serious

The Case of Joel Embiid

During Kevin Durant’s 43-point, 13-rebound, seven-assist performance in Game 3 of the Finals, Embiid tweeted this:

“Nice” can go two ways: (1) very good, talented, or (2) pleasant, kind. So either Embiid thinks Durant is trash, or Embiid thinks Durant is mean to the other team.

1. Does this person have a history of joking/does this person have fun?

You tell me.

2. Does this person have a history of being extremely serious on Twitter?

See question 1.

3. Is there any evidence he’s being serious?

In most countries, a 43-point, 13-rebound, seven-assist statline is good, therefore nice. And Durant seems pretty “nice” nice, too.

Ruling: Not Serious

The Case of Bob Myers

This isn’t a tweet. But it raises the “is he serious?” question in a way that makes it impossible to pass up. During the Warriors’ championship parade, GM Bob Myers was asked about giving Durant any contract he wants this summer, something Myers told reporters earlier that day. His parade response: “Yeah, that was just for the media. He can’t have anything like that at all.” The host then followed up: “Last year you told Steph he can have any contract he wants, too.”

“Yeah, well, that was different,” Myers said. “He’s been here from the way before days, he’s earned it.”

That interaction is even more awkward when you watch the video:

Myers is playing on the backlash over Durant’s decision to come to Golden State, but there’s also been some weird energy between KD and the franchise. We’re skipping straight to question 3, since Myers doesn’t have a Twitter account.

3. Is there any evidence he’s being serious?

He did say less than 24 hours before that he would give Durant whatever he wanted in free agency, but Curry being there longer is also just a fact. Also note Durant’s reaction 16 seconds into the video. He’s … not laughing.

But it seems like Myers is enjoying himself!

Ruling: Not Serious

The Case of Jared Dudley

After the Warriors swept the Cavs, Jared Dudley replied to a tweet saying the Warriors “did nothing wrong as an organization.”

Dudley is a free agent next summer. Is he trying to eventually ring-chase his way onto the Warriors?

1. Does this person have a history of joking/does this person have fun?

Dudley is a regular user of the “crying laughing face” emoji.

2. Does this person have a history of being extremely serious on Twitter?

This is tough. Dudley uses multiple exclamation points in nearly one out of every four tweets he sends. Twitter users employ an exclamation point for extra emphasis, so anywhere from one to three could be taken as very serious. But when you start to get into the four-plus range, it’s unclear whether the user is sarcastic, really excited, or really serious. Dudley uses two (!!) in his second sentence, but four (!!!!) in his conclusion.

3. Is there any evidence this person is being serious?

There is an argument that the Warriors did do everything right. They won the championship! But many folks think they did it the wrong way by signing KD after winning a championship and coming up just short the next year with the group they already had. The “traded perfectly” bit is confusing as well. Andre Iguodala was sign-and-traded to the Warriors in 2013, but Durant was signed outright in free agency; Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, and Draymond Green were all drafted by the Warriors; Shaun Livingston, Nick Young, and JaVale McGee all signed as a free agents; and Harrison Barnes wasn’t traded away for assets, but rather just let go.

Ruling: Serious (?). Go get that ring.