Justin Sink: Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta brings up the @dmorey Hong Kong controversy during the White House restaurant meeting with @potus. “Is he still working for you?” Trump asks. “He must be pretty good.”
None of the executives doubted Morey's interest in the political issue in question, but almost all of them suggested that Morey would figure out how to leverage the ordeal into a net positive for himself. Several noted that, in recent years, Morey has immersed himself in so many disparate pursuits -- the Sloan conference, theater production, Silicon Valley, techno-activism -- that his impulses are best interpreted as groundwork for his next big thing.
Though a couple of NBA executives speculated Morey might have greater difficulty attracting marquee free agents to Houston, few said that his ability to perform his job would be affected beyond having to placate Fertitta, a shotgun marriage that sources close to the Rockets have considered a tenuous fit since Fertitta bought the team in 2017.
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.
The Rockets do not plan to discipline Morey, according to one person with knowledge of the ownership’s thinking who was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly. Yet it remains to be seen how much Morey’s apology will mollify the fans and various entities in China that expressed such loud dismay about Morey’s original Twitter post, in which he shared an image that read, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” — referencing the protests that have raged for months. The slogan is commonly chanted at demonstrations and has been spray-painted throughout the city.
Shams Charania: NBA is not disciplining Rockets GM Daryl Morey for his social media post, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Morey also issued apology tonight.
Ramona Shelburne: New Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai has been a major asset for the NBA in managing this crisis in China. Just as he was with UCLA during the LiAngelo Ball incident.
Sam Amick: Two sources with knowledge of the Rockets' ownership thinking strongly refute the Ringer report indicating that the GM Daryl Morey's job is in jeopardy as a result of the Hong Kong tweet-China situation. That being said, it's undeniably a mess.
Marc Stein: Echoing what @Sam Amick just tweeted, one source with knowledge of the situation tells @NYTSports that Houston has "no discipline" planned for Rockets GM Daryl Morey in the wake of this weekend's Hong Kong/China Twitter controversy
Daryl Morey: I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives. I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.
Chris Mannix: Expect the NBA to issue a statement tonight addressing the controversy sparked by a tweet from Rockets GM Daryl Morey that expressed support for Hong Kong's fight for freedom.
Fertitta praised Brown and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, saying he would keep the Rockets management team in place. He and Brown had already spoken about changes great (addressing the NHL potential in Houston) and small (pledging to upgrade the players' dining room.) Mostly, he and his family celebrated a day long anticipated. "It's an unbelievable thing, an unbelievable day," his father Vic Fertitta said. "To see your son do what he's done and remember him as a child, this is just wonderful. He's been a Rockets fan for so many years, I just can't tell you. He's been a Rockets fan as long as I can remember. It's been about as good a story as you could tell."
Mark Berman: NBA sources: #Rockets GM Daryl Morey signed 4-year extension.Had 1 year left. Now tied to Rockets for 5years.Morey not available for comment
Morey has been frequently equated with one of his former employees, recently resigned Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, who was hired in Philadelphia after cutting his teeth in Houston. According to other executives around the league, that’s not an entirely fair comparison. Where Hinkie was fully committed to playing percentages and probabilities while building a team, Morey has had a more deft hand when dealing with agents and other general managers, and with the personalities on his roster.
“Daryl is a guy who can understand where you’re coming from and work out something, be creative, be tenacious, all of those things,” one NBA team executive told Sporting News. “He approaches things with a lot of imagination and understanding of how to make deals work for everybody. With Sam, he was doing his own thing all along. It could be like you were speaking two different languages sometimes. He knew what he wanted, he would tell you, and that was the beginning and the end of the conversation.”
June 19, 2021 | 1:07 pm EDT Update
According to a source, Brooklyn’s Blake Griffin asked a Celtics player if he should join the team midseason and was told not to come to Boston because of the apparent dysfunction. At season’s end, multiple sources close to the players said several members of the locker room were welcoming a coaching change, noting Stevens did not appear to hold key players accountable, with complaints he was favoring Smart over others.
Walker maintained his professionalism throughout the season but his health issues, the team’s poor performance and boos from TD Garden fans — something that particularly “pissed him off,” according to multiple sources — made him sour on his situation in Boston and had spoken privately about being willing to move to a new team. It had become clear he was not going to be in the team’s long-term plans.
While Walker’s struggles might have made him seem like a disappointment relative to his role and salary, he was still good last season. He is well-liked, known for his geniality and positivity. According to multiple team sources, there was some dysfunction in the locker room, with the relationship between Stevens and Walker characterized as tension-filled. Sources also suggest that Stevens was also perceived to be harder on Walker than on other top players.
Several team sources felt Stevens was more aggressive with certain players this season, which included Walker who was criticized for his defensive mistakes. Those sources said Walker and Stevens began to butt heads, though the pair were considered to have a productive working relationship and mutual respect for one another.
The Los Angeles Lakers are in the market to hire a new head athletic trainer after injuries ravaged their 2020-21 season. Nina Hsieh, promoted to head trainer two years ago, did not have her contract renewed, sources told ESPN.
L.A. let Marco Nunez go in April 2019 after three years at the helm after a season in which Lakers players lost 212 games because of injury. Before Nunez, Gary Vitti served in the role for more than 30 years. More changes are expected as the team is in the process of restructuring its approach to player health, sources told ESPN.
June 19, 2021 | 12:07 pm EDT Update
Malika Andrews: Nets Jeff Green, in part, on what he expects from Kevin Durant in tonight’s Game 7: “He’s been carrying us and I believe tonight won’t be no different. He’s going to go out there and play his heart out and put us on his back and lead us to the win.”