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Kings’ Ben McLemore clarifies comments on NFL players taking knee during anthem

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It’s one of the silly distractions that somehow passes for political discussion in America right now — NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem before games to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the United States. It has become one “us or them” issues that are used as a wedge and political debate, turning something nuanced and worthy of discussion into a — literally, often — black or white issue.

The Sacramento Kings’ Ben McLemore waded right into it.

Approached by TMZ outside a club and asked about the issue, the shooting guard dove in.

“You should always represent our nation. That’s how I feel. I think you always should.”

Does the message the players want to send get lost in the debate?

“In (the NFL’s case) it’s getting lost, but in our sport, in the NBA, I think it’s not.”

That got picked up by a number of aggregation sites, and the spin (as it was at TMZ) is that McLemore slammed NFL players. He put out a statement to correct that perception.

Good job by McLemore getting out in front of this and clarifying his thoughts. None of us form our best arguments confronted while in a car outside a bar. McLemore stepped up with detailed, respectful thoughts — this is more the kind of debate we need to have around the issue of racial injustice in this nation. The debate about kneeling during the anthem is just used to divide and distract from the bigger question. Plus, protest is part of this nation, part of the rights veterans fought for, and why Colin Kaepernick spoke with veterans about how to do this protest before he started it.

Players taking a knee for the anthem has not been an issue in the NBA (and the league would like to keep it that way). It’s not an issue for a few reasons. One, the NBA’s core demographic is different from the NFL’s — it’s younger, it’s more diverse, and it’s more urban. If an NBA player protested during the anthem it would not get near the same vitriol and pushback from the fanbase. It’s a key reason President Donald Trump taking Twitter shots at the NBA or is players doesn’t have the same impact.

Second, the power dynamic between NBA owners and players is different from the NFL’s, in that the elite players have it and own it. NBA owners would not push back against LeBron James, union president Chris Paul, or any other star players on a social justice issue because those teams would feel a talent backlash quickly. Due to basic supply and demand, elite NBA players have a lot of power and they are learning how to wield it.

Third, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league as a who have encouraged players to speak out on social issues, it does not try to stifle them. The league wants guys to speak out, to engage. That is not the sense from the more conservative management style of the NFL.

 

 

Asked about getting stabbed in back, Chris Paul says trade from Rockets

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Chris Paul has gotten traded three times in his career.

New Orleans sent him to the Clippers – but only after David Stern nixed a deal with the Lakers – in 2011. In 2017, Paul engineered a trade to the Rockets by opting in. Then, in an unprecedented star swap, Houston dealt Paul to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook last summer.

Paul recently discussed trades with comedian Kevin Hart.

Hart:

Why is it always such a crazy time when it comes to these trades and whether they’re happening. You’ve been part of some big conversations. Is it at a point where it’s just business, or is it becoming personal?

Paul:

Every situation is different. But the team is going to do whatever they want to do. They’ll tell you one thing and do a smooth nother thing.

Hart:

That’s the business side.

Paul:

Exactly.

Hart:

Do you feel like there’s been times where, “Damn, that’s a little eye-opening. I got stabbed in the back”?

Paul:

Absolutely. This last situation was one of them. The GM there in Houston, he don’t owe me nothing. You know what I mean? He may tell me one thing but do another thing. But you just understand that that’s what it is.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is an easy target right now. Many people around the NBA resent him tweeting support for Hong Kong protesters (who are trying to maintain and expand their freedoms) and costing the league significant revenue in China.

But, in this case, Morey brought it upon himself. He said in June he wouldn’t trade Paul then did so, anyway.

Maybe that was to protect Paul’s feelings if he stayed in Houston. In that case, Morey could tell Paul he believed in him all along. There’d be no way to know Morey was fibbing. Now that Paul is gone, Paul being upset is someone else’s problem. It’s a common tactic by executives.

Paul reportedly requested a trade from the Rockets, but he denied it. I don’t necessarily believe Paul. There was plenty of evidence of tension between him and Harden. It’d be pretty conniving to request a trade then throw Morey under the bus for making the trade.

But Paul’s denial of a trade request is on the record. So is Morey’s declaration that he wouldn’t trade Paul.

Morey must own that.

Report: Rockets have lost about $7M in China revenue this season, $20M overall

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Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters, who are trying to maintain and expand their freedoms, has cost the NBA and its players a lot of money in China.

Probably no team has been harder hit than Houston.

Early estimates pegged the Rockets’ potential lost revenue at $25 million. It apparently hasn’t been quite that bad yet, but it’s already close. And the effects are trickling down to Houston star James Harden.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

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.

For their superstar James Harden, the losses could be considerable if no resolution is reached. A source says Harden’s endorsement agreement with Shanghai’s SPD Bank Credit Card is imperiled.

This is why NBA teams are preparing for a lower-than-projected salary cap. It’s also why the union is planning to better educate its players on global issues.

The money involved is significant.

Nets, CEO David Levy part ways after fewer than two months

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Gersson Rosas – who lasted just three months as Mavericks general manager – was the standard for a short front-office tenure in the NBA.

David Levy, whom the Nets hired as CEO in September, is out after fewer than two months.

Nets release:

The Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center today announced that David Levy and the organization have mutually agreed to part ways. Oliver Weisberg, Chief Executive Officer of J Tsai Sports and NBA Alternate Governor of the Nets, has been named interim Chief Executive Officer of the Nets and Barclays Center.

“I want to thank David for his collaboration over the past several months and wish him well in his future endeavors,” said Weisberg. “As we enter an exciting next chapter of our organization, it’s important that ownership and management are completely aligned on our go forward plan. We are proud of the culture of the Brooklyn Nets under the leadership of General Manager Sean Marks and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson, and we look forward to continue bringing the best experience to our fans.”

This shockingly short tenure raises questions. Mainly: What happened? Absent other information, good luck convincing people there’s not a scandalous story behind this.

The Nets generally appear to be in a good place. They have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and a good amount of young talent. Brooklyn (4-5) has been mediocre, but this was always going to be a limbo season before Durant returns.

There have been a couple controversial incidents. Nets owner Joe Tsai spoke up during the NBA’s China-Hong Kong-Daryl Morey crisis, toeing the Chinese government’s line. A report also emerged about Nets officials being concerned with Irving’s mood swings.

Does either relate to Levy’s exit?

This vague statement leaves the door open to speculation. That isn’t necessarily fair to the people involved, but it’s what they’ll have to deal with.

Trey Lyles inbounds to Dejounte Murray, who promptly steps over sideline to inbound (video)

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The Spurs weren’t sharp in their 113-109 loss to the Grizzlies last night.

No play looked worse than this.

Trey Lyles inbounded the ball to Dejounte Murray, who apparently thought he should have been the one throwing the inbound pass. Murray stepped out of bounds to do that – but Lyles’ inbound pass made it a live ball. So, Murray committed a turnover that was quite simple if not for how stunningly silly it was.

Good news for Murray: He’s preemptively off the hook, because his error only brings to mind a worse inbound gaffe earlier this week.