Silicon Valley Rumors
The title bump may have looked ordinary, but it is a highly visible marker of a growing trend — as Silicon Valley types have flooded NBA ownership ranks, front offices have adopted their ranking hierarchy with no consistency among organizations. A handful of positions are a major departure for the sport: The Oklahoma City Thunder, for instance, has vice presidents of “insight & foresight” and “identification & intelligence,” while former sportswriter Lee Jenkins serves as the Los Angeles Clippers’ “executive director of research and identity.”
In choosing Brooklyn, he seeks to redefine all three aspects. Can the superstar come back from a devastating public injury to dominate the league again? Can he win a championship with a team centered on him? (He’s already flexed new muscles there, eschewing the high-profile New York Knicks, a pairing seemingly preordained, for the upstart Nets.) And can he translate his Silicon Valley lessons to the world capital of capital as well as -of media and fashion. “Walking around New York,” Durant says, “there is so much greatness, hard work and determination.”
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 contrast, conversations with nearly a dozen NBA front-office executives show that most have an acute allergy to this specific conflict with China. “I honestly just try to stay away from it,” one NBA team exec said. “It’s like watching my dog vomit.”
There’s still great uncertainty about the effects on league business, from the impact on salary-cap projections to the probability that the NBA can fully restore its relationships with Chinese broadcasters and corporate partners. Does the NBA have a shot of returning in the foreseeable future to China, where it has played preseason games in every non-lockout season since 2007? No team has felt the brunt of the fallout more than the Rockets. League sources say the franchise has lost more than $7 million in revenue this season from cancelled Chinese sponsorship agreements and nearly $20 million overall when terminated multiyear deals are calculated.