Nearly a month later, an analysis of Twitter data suggests that much of the online conversation that erupted in the wake of the scandal, far from being genuine criticism from concerned citizens, was pro-China propaganda originating from social-media bots and trolls on the mainland. To arrive at this conclusion, The Economist analysed more than 419,000 tweets about the controversy posted by 75,000 Twitter accounts that commented on it in the week after Mr Morey’s original tweet. Which countries the tweets came from cannot be asserted with certainty. Twitter is blocked in China. But the ban is widely circumvented with virtual private networks (VPNs), which allow users to surf the web through a foreign server.
Some of the accounts examined had been opened after Mr Morey’s tweet, whereas others predated it. Using a machine-learning algorithm developed by researchers at the Indiana University Network Science Institute, each Twitter account in our sample was categorised as a real user or a suspected bot or troll based on 1,200 characteristics. These include the account’s friends and followers, social network, activity patterns, language and the sentiments of their posts.
The results show that nearly a quarter of the accounts tweeting about the NBA in the days after the incident had a higher than 50% chance of being bots or trolls. Many of these “suspect” accounts were created soon after Mr Morey’s tweet. Indeed, in the following week, the number of new suspect accounts increased by 400% over the previous seven days. In that earlier week, about 47% of the newly-created accounts in our sample were suspected of malicious activity by the machine-learning algorithm. After the tweet, this proportion rose to 60%.
Three months before his retweet heard ’round the world, Morey pulled off one of the summer’s many stunners by landing the former MVP in Westbrook, who has four seasons and $171.1 million combined left on his deal (with a player option for 2022-23). [...] The end result, as he discussed with The Athletic after declining to address the NBA’s China controversy, came after a five-day stretch of negotiating while at summer league in Las Vegas that Morey describes as the “most intense” of any deal he has ever done. Considering the reputation he has earned in these past 12 years, that’s no small statement.
Griffin was asked whether he had an opinion on the situation and he conceded that he wouldn’t comment on the matter because he didn’t know too much about U.S. politics, let alone geopolitical issues. “To be honest … at the risk of sounding ignorant, there’s so many things in our government that I don’t completely understand, so I don’t pretend to know what’s happening over there,” Griffin said. “My only hope is that no one gets hurt.”
“Enjoy the next few weeks,” Bogut tweeted at Morey as the response ramped up on social media. “Thanks @dmorey for taking some of the nsml’s I was flooded with,” Bogut tweeted to Morey. “'NMSL' was the standout of my mentions for months on social media,” Bogut wrote in The Daily Telegraph. "I believe the acronym translates to something along the lines of 'Your Mother will die'.”
Beijing slammed US vice-president Mike Pence for his “arrogance and hypocrisy” on Friday after he voiced support for Hong Kong democracy protesters and accused the National Basketball Association (NBA) of kowtowing to China. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing that the US should “cease expressing irresponsible opinions”.
In his first public comments since the interview with ESPN, Fertitta, whose team opens the season on Thursday night against Milwaukee, agreed to provide written answers to questions through a spokeswoman. He said he “never considered firing or punishing Daryl” in the wake of Morey’s Twitter post. Fertitta also said that he needed to initially distance the Rockets from Morey because, “I felt it was important to make the distinction between Daryl speaking as a private citizen and Daryl as a representative of the Houston Rockets.”
Then it was back to silence. Fertitta declined to answer several follow-up questions, including whether he wished he had handled anything differently since Morey’s post. The Rockets said Morey was not available for comment.
“Vice President Pence needs to shut the hell up, number one,” Barkley said to a panel of his TNT colleagues as well as NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “All American companies are doing business in China. I thought the criticism of commissioner Silver and LeBron James was unfair.
Barkley added: “Daryl Morey, who I like, he can say whatever he wants to. But there are consequences. I don’t understand why these holier-than-thou politicians, if they’re so worried about China, why don’t they stop all transactions with China? “President Trump has been talking about and arguing with tariffs for China for the last two years,” Barkley continued. “I think it’s unfair for them to do all their business in China and just because this thing happens try to make the NBA and our players look bad. All American companies do business in China. Period.”
A group of 30 fans at the Houston Rockets' season opener against Milwaukee held signs and wore shirts in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong on Thursday night. Houston general manager Daryl Morey angered the Chinese government with a since-deleted tweet in support of the protesters earlier this month. Tuesday's opening-night games were not televised in China in the wake of Morey's tweet, which caused tension between the NBA and Chinese officials.
For Tilman Fertitta, the billionaire restaurant magnate, host of the CNBC television show “Billion Dollar Buyer” and owner of the N.B.A.’s Houston Rockets, silence is unusual. Yet, he has been mostly silent publicly since his Oct. 4 social media rebuke of Daryl Morey, his basketball team’s general manager, after Morey expressed support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong with a post on Twitter.
During a speech Thursday on Chinese-U.S. relations, Vice President Mike Pence criticized the NBA's handling of the fallout in China from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's pro-Hong Kong tweet. Pence went so far as to accuse the league of "acting like a wholly owned subsidiary" of China's Communist Party and also blasted Nike for "checking its social conscience at the door."
“Some of the NBA’s biggest players and owners, who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country, lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of other peoples,” Pence said in his speech, per CNBC. “In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime,” he later added.
But Shaquille O’Neal – an all-time great player, prominent voice on NBA telecasts and (maybe most relevantly here) minority owner of the Sacramento Kings – made himself clear. O’Neal on TNT: "We as American people, we do a lot of business in China. And they know and understand our values. And we understand their values. And one of our best values here in America is free speech. We’re allowed to say what we want to say, and we’re allowed to speak up about injustices, and that’s just how it goes. And if people don’t understand that, that’s something that they have to deal with. But I just think it was unfortunate for both parties. And then you’ve got people speaking when they don’t know what they’re talking about. But Daryl Morey was right. Whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say, “That’s not right,” and that’s what he did. But again, when it comes to business sometimes you have to tiptoe around things."
Within the league though, many saw something else. Specifically, they were struck by how bold Silver was in confronting the Chinese government, refusing to capitulate in the manner many other American corporations have. For instance, the NBA’s second, clarifying statement on the matter was stronger and included a defense of American principles.
LeBron’s comments on Daryl Morey were instantly unpopular pretty much everywhere, everywhere except for among people who work for teams. Owners are especially frustrated with Morey for transgressing in such a way that hurt their pocketbooks, but that sentiment is widespread throughout the sport.
Ben Golliver: TNT’s Charles Barkley on Rockets GM Daryl Morey: “Why should LeBron sacrifice his money because of some tweet this fool put out? Why should the NBA sacrifice their billions? ... When you work for a company, you speak for the entire company. ... We’re not going to change China.”
Chinese state television did not air the NBA's opening night games Tuesday, and the league's streaming partner, Tencent, reduced its schedule and showed just the Lakers-Clippers contest.
Outside that game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, a group of protesters chanted and offered fans T-shirts that read: "Fight For Freedom Stand For Hong Kong." A smattering of fans wore them inside Staples during the game.
In a commentary over the weekend, CCTV said NBA commissioner Adam Silver will face "retribution sooner or later" for saying last week that Chinese officials made it clear they wanted Morey fired. The Chinese government denied Silver's claim.
Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, says pressure from China to silence NBA players and managers hasn’t changed anything at the basketball league “What influence? What did they do that caused us to change any behavior?” he asked during a panel discussion at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach, Cali., on Monday. “There’s just no reason to get in the domestic policy of foreign countries and it’s not like any of them have made us change out behavior at the NBA.”
Cuban said that he would not have reprimanded Morey for his tweet, and explained that he’s been outspoken about how China has “disadvantaged” Americans through its IPOs and stock listings on U.S. exchanges. “I’ve been very clear that there are things they are doing wrong to disadvantage American citizens, particularly financially,” Cuban said. “It’s not a matter of not being willing to speak up against China.”
During TNT’s pre-game show on opening night of the NBA season Tuesday, Shaquille O’Neal strongly defended Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who caused an international firestorm earlier this month by tweeting a pro-Democracy message about protesters in Hong Kong. “As American people, we do a lot of business in China,” O’Neal said. “And they know and understand our values and we understand their values. And one of our best values in America is free speech. We’re allowed to say what we want to say and we’re allowed to speak up on injustices, and that’s just how it goes.”
Erik Horne: Chris Paul hasn’t talked in a while. This was today on the NBA/China: “I think for us as players we try to control what we can control. I think that it’s great that the season is starting today and we‘re going to get back to playing for all of our fans all around the country.”
If LaVine was worthy of that deal, someone who has been trying to rebuild the Kings was worthy of a lucrative deal, too. Hield wanted his loyalty rewarded and to know the Kings saw him as a key part of their future. A source with knowledge of Hield’s thinking said there were other cursory factors as well. For one, the unexpected China factor — how much money will they lose in the wake of Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting the protestors in Hong Kong? — is looming large for everyone in the NBA at the moment.
James’ response to Morey’s tweet wasn’t well received, with him toeing the NBA line and calling it “misinformed,” and later clarifying that he was upset by the timing of Morey’s tweet. But in an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Monday morning, Silver defended James’ response, as well as the decision many players have made to stay silent on the issue. Via Bleacher Report: "I think that these players, I mean, take LeBron who has an incredible track record of doing things that have changed people's lives in the United States to be asked to comment on a difficult foreign issue is, I think, again there's free expression and he should say how he feels. But, freedom of speech also means the freedom not to speak. And I've often said to players about issues here at home: If it's something you don't know about and you don't feel comfortable responding, that's OK as well. So, it's been no-win for a lot of those players, so I'm very sympathetic."
"This has been a very difficult moment between the NBA and China," Silver said on ESPN. "My belief is ... we will get back on track. People need to step back. Everybody has made their points. There is no secret here about what's going on in China. ... Basketball diplomacy and engagement is positive. That's what we're turning back to."
“If you want to make China a significant part of your business, you have to understand that there are political risks involved,” said a sports industry source this week with extensive history negotiating deals with China. “You don’t see movies about Tibet much anymore. You don’t see Chinese as villains. Look at ‘The Martian’; it was the Chinese coming to the rescue. Hollywood has learned – not without some criticism – and they have accepted. China is about to become the biggest box office in the world.”
But, that doesn’t mean that Morey doesn’t have to take some responsibility here – and not for the economics. “It wasn’t that (James) was just put in a bad situation; it was at the worst possible time,” the sports industry source said. “Why the fuck would Daryl Morey send it then, when teams were over there? LeBron got ripped, and I’m not sure what he said that was wrong.”
In a commentary on Saturday, state broadcaster CCTV said Silver had “crossed the bottom line” by continuing to defend Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, who posted an image on Twitter on October 4 saying “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong”.
Speaking on Ebro in the Morning, Iguodala explained how he feels about the whole situation as someone who saw it unfold from the sidelines. "It was interesting, because if you keep up with the tech space you see this all the time," he said at the 10:30 point of the interview. He went on to explain how complicated the relationship between Western companies and China can be, and as such it can be difficult for people to have a certain stance if they don't have the full picture.
"It's interesting in this situation with China, they're shoving a camera in our face and be like, 'No you can't say no comment we need you to speak on this,'" Iguodala continued, highlighting what he believes is a double standard. "They ready to attack LeBron for making a statement because they don't like his statement, they feel like he should have took another stance. But when he's home and he makes a stance about... and it's like, 'No this is not your place to make that statement.' That was just mindblowing. That's what bothered me the most."
From league officials to the teams to the players union, there is uncertainty about what the next steps will or should be. NBA teams are targeting the start of the season on Tuesday as the next barometer test, sources tell The Athletic, wondering whether China will lift the broadcast ban or if they will continue to blackball telecasts for its millions of viewers.
China is refuting NBA commissioner Adam Silver's claim that it demanded the firing of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey over a tweet that supported anti-government protests in Hong Kong. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says the "Chinese government never posed this requirement." During an appearance in New York on Thursday, Silver said the NBA was "being asked to fire [Morey] by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told reporters on Thursday that the league has dealt with “fairly dramatic” financial losses in the fallout of Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey's tweet of support to the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters. “The losses have already been substantial,” he said at the Time 100 Summit. “Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak, and we'll see what happens next... I don't know where we go from here. The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.”
A group of local Vancouverites are looking to test the National Basketball Association’s commitment to free speech on Friday morning (Hong Kong time) when the Los Angeles Clippers take on the Dallas Mavericks in a preseason game at Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver. The game will start at 10.30am Hong Kong time. According to an article by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a publicly funded news network, a group of people who support democracy in Hong Kong will stage a protest during the game. CBC spoke to the protest organiser, Lee Haber, who said the group’s goal is clear. “We want to test the NBA: Do you really stand for freedom of speech?” Haber told the CBC.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving regularly go there on Nike business, although they haven’t spoken publicly about last week’s contentious trip. But Spencer Dinwiddie’s self-endorsed signature shoe is made and marketed in China — and he says it still will be even after the latest flap. “[That] doesn’t have much of a bearing on what was going on,” Dinwiddie said. “That was completely outside Spencer. So, I mean, they still sell my shoes, so I don’t have any problems.”
Rodman told "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Thursday that politics and sports should be kept separate. "I just look at it -- I think the NBA is a great sport around the world," he said. "NBA players have an obligation to do one thing -- it's to play sports. I think when you put politics with sports, it doesn't mix."
Now, after just two weeks of scandal, the future of the N.B.A. in a country where it has eyed expansion for several decades is uncertain, Silver said. “I felt we had made enormous progress in terms of building cultural exchanges with the Chinese people, and I have regret that much of that was lost,” Silver said. “And I’m not even sure where we’ll go from here.”
Silver said the Chinese government asked for Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, to be fired. Morey set off the international firestorm with a tweet using a slogan used by the protesters in Hong Kong, just as the league was preparing to stage games in Shanghai and Shenzhen between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Nets. “We said there’s no chance that’s happening,” Silver said. “There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”
Brian Lewis: #NBA commissioner Adam Silver at the TIME 100 Health Summit on the China situation: “The losses have already been substantial. Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak, and we’ll see what happens next.” #nets #rockets
Brian Lewis: Silver speaking with Robin Roberts ay the TIME 100 Health Summit: “I don’t know where we go from here. The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.” #nba
Hu Xijin, editor of the usually virulently nationalistic outlet Global Times, posted a surprising call for restraint on Weibo. “There’s no need for cutting cooperation with the NBA to become some sort of trend,” Hu wrote. “As America becomes more closed, China needs to keep a more open mind-set.” By Monday, Chinese media giant Tencent had resumed live-streaming NBA games. Nationalists voiced their disappointment online. “We have already surrendered?” wrote one Weibo user with the screen name Hsiung Fan. “I feel like an idiot to believe everything was real,” wrote another user named Yuchen Bao_Bao.
“This kind of highly nationalistic emotions are promoted by certain Communist Party and government branches rather than the government as a whole,” said Fang Kecheng, professor of communication and journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He pointed to state media, which serve as the propaganda department, as an example. “By publishing those articles criticizing Apple, the NBA, they can draw a lot of page views and shares and likes and followers,” he said. “They can report to their boss saying, we have been doing great and we have significant influence online, especially among young people.”
With that landscape in mind, the notion of James focusing on one of his NBA associates rather than the other important issues at hand was unproductive, to say the least. As I wrote recently, sources say there was a specific spark that led to the tweet from Morey, who has spoken out in support of civil liberty issues several times before on Twitter: The new law enacted by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, that bans face masks during protests and is widely seen as a tactic to identify dissidents. What’s more, James’ view stood in stark contrast to the view shared by one of the league’s other legends with whom James has so often been aligned, the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich.
A review of nearly 170,000 tweets, plus analysis from expert information warfare researchers, shows that Morey was the target of what appears to be a coordinated harassment campaign after his tweet on Oct. 4 set off an international furor and threatened the NBA’s future in the world’s most populous country.
In at least one case, a reporter was explicitly told to stand down on covering the story the way he wanted. Prominent NBA reporter Zach Lowe attempted to host an expert from the Council on Foreign Relations on his podcast, only to be told he couldn’t.
“The meeting with Adam was good,” Joe Harris said. “He came in, sort of outlined everything that was going on, wanted to open it up for dialogue with a lot of the guys. Then everybody kind of met, took what he said, took it in and yeah, everybody kind of went their separate ways. “It’s not like he was standing in front of everybody and making some dramatic commentary. He was basically just describing what we already knew was going on.”
Malika Andrews: Joe Harris on whether or not he is worried about the financial implications of Daryl Morey’s tweets: “I already get paid too much to play a game. So, not really.”
“It’s a tough situation we’re all in right now with the association (NBA), us as athletes, GMs (general managers) and owners and so forth,” James said. “I think when the issue comes up and you feel passionate about it and you feel like it’s something you want to talk about, then so be it. “I also don’t think every issue should be everybody’s problem as well. When things come up, there’s multiple things that we haven’t talked about that have happened in our own country that we don’t bring up. There’s things that happen in my own community in trying to help my kids graduate high school and go off to college. That’s been my main concern the last couple of years with my school.
Hong Kong anti-government protesters were burning Lebron James jerseys and trampling on them following the comments made by the Los Angeles Lakers superstar on Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s now-deleted tweet in support of the protests. These actions by the protesters came after James talked about Morey, saying that: “Yes, we do have freedom of speech,” James said. “But at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others when you only think about yourself.”
When the next slight comes, experts say China will expect the offender to fall in line with the usual response. At a minimum, that means an apology and muting of any message that even remotely challenges the power of the authoritarian regime or its “sovereignty.” In the case of the NBA, Commissioner Adam Silver said last week the league was “not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression” but said he regretted that people got upset over his tweet. The NBA also shut up about Hong Kong, where protesters have been fighting for democracy and autonomy apart from mainland China and its one-party government in Beijing.
“Given the high popularity of NBA in China, perhaps over time this conflict could soften,” said Maria Repnikova, an assistant professor at Georgia State and author of the book Media Politics in China: Improvising Power under Authoritarianism. The key words are “this conflict,” which doesn’t apply to the next one or the one after that. Repnikova notes that Morey’s tweet came at a particularly sensitive time in U.S.-China relations. Besides the conflict in Hong Kong, China is engaged in a trade war with the U.S. that’s led to global economic anxiety. Against that backdrop, Repnikova told USA TODAY Sports that China’s reaction to Morey’s tweet can be viewed as a warning shot to others – a “signaling mechanism for other U.S. companies and entities to practice more caution in discussing China's politically sensitive issues publicly.”
Harrison Faigen: Vogel was asked how he approaches LeBron speaking on global issues, and if he'd ever not want him to. "He's been remarkable with that throughout his career. Speaking up, and knowing when it's necessary, and not doing so when it's not. So I stay out of that, and trust him."
John Gonzalez: After talking about the NBA and China after practice today, @LeBron James said he won’t talk about the issue again. “We’re not politicians.”
Enes Kanter: Stand for FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY. Even if it means sacrificing EVERYTHING!!! pic.twitter.com/P68uq9B1Cc
NBA star LeBron James reportedly pressured the NBA to punish the Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey after he tweeted support for Hong Kong. James argued that if something a NBA player had tweeted had cost the league money they would have been punished, and questioned why the same wasn’t happening to Morey, according to Dave McMenamin on ESPN.
“Nearly a week ago today, in a Shanghai hotel room, or Shanghai hotel ballroom, Adam Silver got up and addressed the players, and LeBron James is one of the players who got up and spoke and said, ‘Hey, what are we doing here? Daryl Morey made these statements,'” McMenamin recalled on air Tuesday. “You know damn well if a player made the same statements and caused such poor ramifications for the league, there would be some sort of league recourse.”
“There would be repercussions the player has to pay. You know, potentially this tweet could cost the NBA hundreds of millions of dollars. That could come out of the players’ pockets, and so that’s the double standard that was being addressed in that meeting,” he continued.
On Sunday's episode of "Last Week Tonight" on HBO, Oliver recapped China's backlash against the NBA following Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's since-deleted tweet in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. Oliver called China's uproar over Morey's tweet "absurd," before facetiously criticizing Morey for letting Chriss go in a trade last season. "You wanna be angry at him, how about the fact he traded away power forward Marquese Chriss as part of a three-team deal with the Kings and Cavaliers back in February?" Oliver joked. "Chriss is [6-foot-10] with a 7-foot wingspan, plays way above the rim and can mix it up in the post. Yes, granted, he's had his issues on the Suns -- I'm not denying that. But he's the exact type of athletic big man that could have balanced out [Russell Westbrook and James Harden] especially when he's coming off the bench for P.J. Tucker. "What I'm saying, Daryl, is your tweet about Hong Kong was totally fine -- nothing to apologize for there -- but when it comes to Marquese Chriss, you f----d up, Daryl!"
Ben Golliver: Lakers’ LeBron James on NBA’s China controversy: “I don’t want to get into a ... feud with Daryl Morey but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.”
"I don't want to get into a [verbal] feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke," James said before the Los Angeles Lakers played the Golden State Warriors in a preseason game at Staples Center. "And so many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and say and we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too."
"I believe he was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it," James said. "I have no idea, but that is just my belief. Because when you say things or do things, if you are doing it and you know the people that can be affected by it and the families and individuals and everyone that can be affected by it, sometimes things can be changed as well. And also social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well, but that's just my belief."
LrBron James: Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.
LeBron James: My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it.
Enes Kanter: Wow dude! 🤦🏻♂️ SMH -Haven’t seen or talked to my family 5 years -Jailed my dad -My siblings can’t find jobs -Revoked my passport -International arrest warrant -My family can’t leave the country -Got Death Threats everyday -Got attacked, harassed -Tried to kidnap me in Indonesia FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a tense meeting with players from the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers last week when he arrived in Shanghai, sources told ESPN's Rachel Nichols.
During the meeting, sources said, several prominent players voiced frustration about their perception that they were being put in the middle of the dispute between the NBA and China, and they said they were unhappy about being asked to address the situation by local Chinese reporters before Silver himself was scheduled to do so.
James spoke up and said Silver should be on the front lines of any league communication with the media. “I think it would have been very unfair for a kid like Talen Horton-Tucker, who is a 19-year-old rookie, to have to comment about such issues that he has absolutely nothing [to do with], that he has no knowledge about,” James said. “And are we sure that he would have said, ‘Sorry guys, I have no idea what’s going on.’ Are we sure he would have said that? Or could have had said something that could have been detrimental to not only himself but for everyone that was there.”
There were moments of frustration when some players asked if they could go home. If they said the wrong thing about Hong Kong or any other topic, would the Chinese government delay their flights home?
During the meeting with the players, sources said, Silver was directly asked whether anything would happen to Morey, as several players said they believed that if a player had cost the NBA millions of dollars because of a tweet, there would be repercussions. Morey will not face any league discipline for the tweet.
This coincides with what happened to the Rockets. Sources told The Athletic that at least two Houston players had sponsorship negotiations stall out in China after the impact of Morey’s post began to spiral.
The microscope focused on the NBA quickly expanded to encompass the activities of other U.S. companies with strong business ties in China, including Apple Inc. and entertainment company Activision Blizzard Inc. But an analysis of Morning Consult polling suggests that there’s no marked downside for international companies to continue with business as usual in China: Consumers simply don’t hold strong opinions on corporate dealings in the second-largest economy in the world.
Kyle Goon: Frank Vogel said he was proud of the way the players conducted themselves in China, and said they were willing to do whatever the league asked of them. When asked if he would go back to China for a similar trip in the future, Vogel said yes.
Nick Friedell: Steph on what's the best way for the league to come through the China situation: (1/2) "Staying true to who we are a league. But figuring out how that plays with all the different connections we have and opportunities we have. Just the way we've done business has been great ..."
Multiple league front-office and ownership sources tell The Athletic that they believe Silver will be able to regain a foothold in the NBA-China relationship but fear irreparable losses for the Rockets in the indefinite future. The NBA and Rockets have supported Morey’s freedom of expression, and both decided not to discipline him.
According to sources, Morey did not expect his tweet to implode the way it did. He has returned to business for the Rockets, making two transaction moves last week in releasing former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and claiming forward Ray Spalding off waivers. The Rockets are also now dealing with an injury to key rotation player Gerald Green, who is feared to be sidelined a few months because of a broken left foot.
Lakers star LeBron James spoke up in front of everyone in the room and stated he believed that Silver and the NBA needed to explain and articulate the situation first, before the players would have to, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Athletic. James expressed concern that without the league being able to speak to media to address all of the questions and dynamics about China and the NBA, it was unfair for solely players to bear that responsibility.
James understood many players were not in a position to attack the questions head on, and led the joint players-only meeting after their session with Silver where the same concepts were discussed among all 38 Lakers and Nets players on the trip to China. “Why are we the ones to go through the risks of speaking out in China when the league should be the first to address the matter, with our voices to follow?” said one source with knowledge of the meeting and the players’ thinking in regard to James’ message. They discussed making sure they felt safe and protected without thrusting themselves in unfair positions, sources said. Nets star guard Kyrie Irving and Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma joined James in speaking during the players-only meeting, sources said.
Sources told The Athletic that several Lakers and Nets players lost money over broken deals in Shanghai that involved sponsorship appearances. China was fully halting business with the NBA and its players. As The Athletic’s Bill Oram reported from Shenzhen, Kyle Kuzma was set to announce new sponsorship deals while in China, but they were scrapped once the team arrived in Shanghai because of the controversy. This coincides with what happened to the Rockets. Sources told The Athletic that at least two Houston players had sponsorship negotiations stall out in China after the impact of Morey’s post began to spiral.
Vincent Ellis: Pistons coach Dwane Casey: “I’m not going to sit here and talk about Chinese relations with Hong Kong if I don’t understand it, the complexities of it.” Most NBA players don't connect with what's going on in China. And that's OK freep.com/story/sports/n… via @freep
HoopsHype asked seven NBA agents how they’re advising their clients to answer questions about this topic and whether they believe this controversy will affect the salary cap. The agents spoke on the condition of anonymity. Several other agents refused to comment – even off the record – because this is such a sensitive topic. Since this is such a touchy situation, some agents have advised their players to avoid talking about it altogether. “We proactively addressed our clients and told them not to discuss this and just let the NBA handle it at this point,” one agent said. “There’s really no upside to speaking out about this if you’re a player, so we advised them that it’s best to stay out of it and let Adam Silver and the league handle this.”
August 18, 2022 | 2:54 am EDT Update
The Lakers remain active in trade talks and would part with their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in the right deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said in an appearance on Sports Center (video link). Those picks “have a lot of value in the marketplace” if they’re unprotected, Wojnarowski states. He adds that L.A. would be willing to give them up in a trade for Kyrie Irving, but the Nets haven’t been interested.
Those around the team were confident that James signing an extension was likely, considering how much he’s enjoyed playing for the Lakers and living in Los Angeles. The primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic.
The Lakers have explored runs at Nets point guard Kyrie Irving ($36.9 million expiring contract), but it’s unclear if Brooklyn would want to include Joe Harris’ $19.9 million salary for 2023-24 as well. The Pacers have Buddy Hield, a former client of Lakers executive Rob Pelinka, at $18.6-23.3 million for next season (depending on incentives). Los Angeles has also explored a deal for Pacers center Myles Turner with the expectation that he would extend or re-sign beyond his current $17.5-20 million salary for 2022-23.
Per several sources connected to teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers have not been willing to part with significant draft capital to get off Westbrook’s contract. But that may have been tied to uncertainty surrounding James’ future, which is now put to rest.
The sense from those sources: Westbrook will have a new home when the Lakers green-light trades that include both their 2027 and 2029 first-rounders. What’s still unclear is whether L.A. will be willing to do so.
Rob Pelinka has been “very active” in attempting to add more shooting and size to the Los Angeles Lakers roster, according to Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN. “Rob Pelinka has still been very active, even in the dog days of August. He’s been on the phone a lot, he’s still trying to find deals to bring in more shooting, perhaps some size. And so I think those conversations continue all the way into training camp,” said Wojnarowski on NBA Today.
Among the executives with whom I spoke, a Boston deal with Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece appears to be the unofficial front-runner here. In general terms, sources say the Nets are using the fact that the Celtics (and perhaps other teams) have made their second-best player available as a baseline of sorts in negotiations. Translation: If you’re still trying to discuss a Durant deal without putting your second-best talent on the table, then just stop wasting everyone’s time and bow out of this race.