The Houston Rockets entered free agency with the primary goal of landing a big man, as they realized their fixation of small ball was a hindrance in their pursuit of a title. The top names on the market were Serge Ibaka, Jerami Grant, and Christian Wood, and the Rockets would have improved substantially by adding any of the three players.
Rockets fans waited patiently on the opening night of free agency to hear news regarding the Rockets agreeing to terms to any of the aforementioned players, and the news was posted on Twitter that Rockets general manager Rafael Stone had struck gold, as first reported by Frank Isola of the New York Post.
Christian Wood is close to finalizing a three-year, $27 million contract with the Houston Rockets, according to a source.
— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) November 21, 2020
What was interesting about Isola’s tweet is that he was the only reporter to link Wood to the Rockets. In fact, news dropped after Isola’s tweet that the two parties hadn’t come to terms on a deal yet, as both sides were “still negotiating,” as it became commonly described.
Isola remained firm in his reporting, as he didn’t delete the tweet or provide the proverbial update that the two sides were still negotiating or that the deal wasn’t complete yet. As it turns out, Wood’s agent, Adam Pensack, wasn’t exactly thrilled with Isola breaking the news at the time that he did, as Isola explained on Sirius XM’s The Starting Lineup on NBA Radio.
“I tweeted that Christian Wood and the Houston Rockets were close to finalizing a three-year deal worth $27 million and not even hours later the news broke that the two sides agreed to a three-year deal worth $41 million, not $27 million.
I was the only person to have that [news] that he was close to finalizing a three-year deal with the Houston Rockets. I got a text from a guy who represents him, telling me the information was false.
Then 30 minutes later, the deal happens and the guy writes back, ‘Well your information was still false, we weren’t ever really that close.’ How can you never be that close when the deal just got done?
I’m at a dinner with my wife and I get a text from this guy, Adam Pensack, as if I’m supposed to stop what I’m doing because this guy is texting me in the middle of the night to tell me that it’s false. And then the deal ends up happening anyways.”
Isola came under fire for being first to leak Houston Rockets’ deal with Wood
Isola provided context on why the reports circulated that the Rockets and Wood were still negotiating, as Wood’s agent gave him a call to rebuke him for leaking the reports that Wood was close to inking a deal with the Rockets when the deal wasn’t completed yet. The subsequent reports caused the Rockets fanbase to fret, as there was no plausible explanation for the perceived change of heart on Wood’s part.
Was it the reports of James Harden and Russell Westbrook wanting to be traded? If not, what could it have been? Isola clapped back at Wood’s agent, Pensack, getting in an upheaval about the deal not finished and the total number being increased from $27 million to $41 million.
“At the time when I wrote it, that’s what it was! I didn’t say it was a done deal, I said Christian Wood and the Rockets, three-year deal.”
Isola made it clear that he wants to be viewed as a credible source and believes he is one, citing the “Melo drama” involving Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets during the 2010-11 season.
“Go back and look. Who had Carmelo Anthony coming to the Knicks? The best was when I wrote the story that Mikhail Prokhorov and Jim Dolan were both going to meet with Carmelo at the All-Star game in LA, and of course everyone denied that it was happening, and sure enough the next day it came out that he had met with both owners.”
Isola’s refusal to delete the tweet and give in to Pensack’s demands made it obvious to even those who weren’t following the situation closely that a deal had been reached between Wood and the Rockets, and the news was made official shortly thereafter. Wood and the Rockets hope to be able to concoct the NBA’s next Big Three of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Wood, who has star potential.
But Isola deserves credit for being the only person to leak the news, and even more so for not giving in to Wood’s agent’s demands, especially when the deal had already been reached.