The Nets–Lakers game, scheduled for 7:30 Eastern Time tomorrow morning in Shanghai, appears likely to be played, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). There have been concerns that the game and another one scheduled for Saturday in Shenzhen might be canceled due to the ongoing dispute between the league and the Chinese government.
Media sessions scheduled for today to promote the game were called off, along with at least two other NBA-related events, and outdoor advertisements for the contest were taken down, relays Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. However, Commissioner Adam Silver told representatives of both teams that he believes the games won’t be affected.
Tensions have been high since Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet last Friday supporting protesters in Hong Kong. Morey quickly removed the tweet and team owner Tilman Fertitta emphasized that the team doesn’t take political positions, but it has done little to quell the controversy.
The dispute reached Congress today with a bi-partisan group sending a letter to Silver urging him to have the “courage and integrity” to stand up to Chinese leaders. The lawmakers are calling on the NBA to suspend all activities in the nation until the government agrees to reverse the actions it has taken against the Rockets. Throughout the country, Rockets merchandise has been taken off the shelves and murals of the team, even those featuring Yao Ming, have been covered with paint.
“You have more power to take a stand than most of the Chinese government’s targets and should have the courage and integrity to use it,” the letter read. The league offered no comment and did not say if Silver has seen the letter.
There’s more on the NBA’s standoff with China:
- The dispute has spread to the United States, Reynolds notes, as two fans were removed from the Sixers‘ game against Guangzhou Tuesday night for displaying signs and chanting support for Hong Kong. Wells Fargo Center officials issued a statement today explaining the ejections. “During the second quarter of last night’s 76ers game, Wells Fargo Center security responded to a situation that was disrupting the live event experience for our guests,” the statement read. “After three separate warnings, the two individuals were escorted out of the arena without incident. The security team employed respectful and standard operating procedures.” Hong Kong supporters were also visible at tonight’s Wizards game in Washington, D.C., tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
- The international tension has been a distraction that the Nets don’t need as they prepare for the season, states Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Players are staying in their hotel and are being very guarded in their public statements. “It was unfortunate that the events were cancelled (Tuesday) but we’re not experts in that field,” DeAndre Jordan said on ESPN’s The Jump. “The field that we are experts in is basketball. We wanted to come here to play basketball and see all our fans in China.”
- Salary cap experts from five teams are preparing for a sharply reduced cap in 2020/21 because of the expected loss of revenue from China, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. Some are running scenarios that are 10-15% lower than the current $116MM projection. While he stresses that it’s just preparation, Smith adds that a source told him, “It’s like the spike, but opposite. After all the money everyone spent last summer, this would have a major impact on all of us.” (Twitter link)