China Rumors

Chino Hills High School and Spire Institute basketball star LaMelo Ball plans to play professionally overseas in China or Australia next season, his father, LaVar Ball, announced during halftime at the Big Baller Brand All American Game on Sunday. Here’s the transcript of the interview in which LaVar broke the news (H/T @ABtheHERO) “I’m going to let you know the plan know so everyone can just stop. With college, I already knew what they were about to do. ‘We’re going to investigate, we’re not going to let him play until we let him play, LaVar. We’re not going to let you do all that big mouth talking and then we’re going to hold him back and a whole year goes by.’ The G League … I’m not going to let no 28, 29-year-old dudes tee off on him. He’s trying to make a name for himself, so he’s definitely going overseas … to either Australia or China.”
As it stands, the NBL has a program set up for players in LaMelo’s exact situation. The ‘Next Stars’ program was initiated before the beginning of the 2018-19 season, with players paid by the NBL, then assigned to a team. The players who are brought over are paid $AUD100,000, which ends up as $US50,000 net, sources told in March, 2018. The teenagers are also given an apartment, a car, flights, and individual development training, sources said. There was just one Next Stars player this past season, Brian Bowen II, who came off the bench for the Sydney Kings.
Storyline: LaMelo Ball Free Agency
The National Basketball Association Inc. is hiring its first head of government and public affairs in China as it seeks to protect its most important international market at a time of high tension in the U.S.-China relationship. The newly created position, based either in Beijing or Shanghai, will report directly to NBA China Chief Executive Officer Derek Chang and be in charge of “shaping the public narrative” of the league in the world’s second largest economy, said the job posting, which Bloomberg has seen.
In response to Bloomberg queries, NBA said that it is the most popular international sports league in China. “We do not disclose financials, but can tell you that our business is in great shape,” it said in an email. “Overall our business in China has seen double-digit growth every year since 2008.” The email didn’t address specific questions about why the government affairs job was being created now, or whether the New York-based NBA coordinates any activities with the U.S. government.