NBA Trade Deadline Day Is a Twitter Holiday

Social media investigators look to tweets for any clues.

Isaiah Thomas in a Celtics jersey and a white headband with his arms open
Getty Images / Maddie Meyer

Leading up to the NBA trade deadline, plenty of fans sit on the edge of their seats wondering if their favorite players might be pawned off or if their home team picks up some new talent. While rumors have always given fans clues about the drama and discussions that are happening behind closed doors, social media has become an investigatory tool for those trying to predict where the most talked about basketball players may end up.

Forget the NBA Finals, trade deadline day is what turned Twitter to a buzzing holiday today.

There’s been plenty of major moves leading up to the actual deadline day, including DeMarcus Cousins leaving the Sacramento Kings for the New Orleans Pelicans. Beyond actual shake-ups, just the possibility of one has taken fans for a wild ride. For example, some were speculating that Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves would be heading to the New York Knicks because of two updates to his Twitter: Rubio took mentions of his team out of his bio, and he followed the Knicks’s Kristaps Porzingis.


Now, a quick alteration to anything on social media could mean nothing or everything. Just think of it at a non-professional basketball player level. If two people dating typically post pictures of themselves together on Facebook suddenly delete all that content, people usually begin to wonder and gossip. The “Following” lists of celebrities on social media have long been something worth snooping into, like when Motherboard observed that Elon Musk was following zero women on Twitter back in 2016 until he was called out on it.

Certain players have used Twitter to either leave some clues or just downright troll fans regarding possible trades by simply tweeting a single emoji. Denizens of the internet have gone bonkers trying to figure out what they all mean.

Utah Jazz’s Derrick Favors sent out a cryptic “thinking face” emoji. He denies that it means anything, but of course it helped fuel the fire.

C. J. McMollum of the Portland Trail Blazers did something similar, using the tea emoji. Nowadays, tea has also become common slang for gossip in certain circles, so it’s understandable that there could have been something behind the emoji.

But people becoming more aware of this charade played by the players felt emboldened to call out this behavior and make jokes.

People were particularly shook when Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics tweeted out the eyes emoji, wondering what exactly was he throwing some side eyes toward, and if it meant he’d be leaving Beantown.

But on Thursday, he dispelled rumors about trying to stir things up. He told reporters, “I didn’t mean to shake the internet like that, I didn’t mean to do that to y’all.”

And ultimately, it looks like Rubio’s profile updates didn’t manifest to be anything more than just some social media activity. Minnesota reportedly decided to walk away from trading the player. Who knew these players would be playing as much of a game on the court as in their online lives.

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