The Lakers and Nets remain on track to play the second exhibition game of their China trip on Saturday in Shenzhen, but the NBA announced today that players on both teams will no longer be required to speak to reporters before or after that game.
“We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China,” the league said in a statement, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. “They have been placed into a complicated and unprecedented situation while abroad and we believe it would be unfair to ask them to address these matters in real time.”
The NBA reportedly cancelled pregame and postgame press conferences on Thursday in China involving Lakers and Nets players and commissioner Adam Silver at the behest of the Chinese government. But sources tell McMenamin that the league made today’s decision independently.
Although the NBA has nixed its scheduled media sessions, the Lakers and Nets are free to conduct their own media availability, a league spokesman said. However, the NBA ran its plan by players and representatives from the players’ union before making its announcement, a source tells McMenamin. So it’s unlikely that players from either team will actively seek out reporters to comment on the situation while they remain in China.
Here are more of the latest notes on the NBA/China controversy, which began when Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted support for protestors in Hong Kong:
- In today’s statement, the NBA referred to its players in China being placed in a “complicated and unprecedented situation” — that’s a feeling held by many of those players, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. “They feel they are in tough spot because they’re going to have to talk about things that they aren’t well-versed on,” someone in touch with two players currently in China told Begley. “They thought they were here to play basketball and entertain, and it’s turned into a circus.”
- Adam Silver spoke earlier this week about wanting to sit down with former Rockets star and current Chinese Basketball Association chairman Yao Ming, but as of Thursday, that meeting had not yet happened, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. A source told Zillgitt that Yao wasn’t even in his hometown of Shanghai on Thursday when the Lakers and Nets played there.
- John Hollinger of The Athletic, who spent nearly seven years in the Grizzlies’ front office, explored the possible impact the NBA/China controversy might have on the league’s salary cap going forward, a subject we touched on yesterday. Hollinger notes that it’s tricky for teams’ cap gurus to make an accurate estimate because of the complicated math involved in incorporating international money into the league’s BRI — on top of that, those specific revenue figures aren’t widely available.