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James Harden says ‘we love China;’ Nets owner Joe Tsai weighs in on Morey tweet

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The Rockets were hoping the issue of GM Daryl Morey’s now-deleted Tweet about the Hong Kong protesters — where he used the slogan “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” — would go away. Morey apologized, the Rockets distanced themselves from the comments, and even the NBA released a statement saying Morey did not speak for the league.

It has not been enough, the issue has not gone away.

In Japan, where the Rockets are for a couple of exhibition games, James Harden also tried to distance himself from the comments and shore up his love of China. Via Agence France-Presse:

“We apologize. We love China,” he said, standing alongside fellow Rockets guard Russell Westbrook.

“We love playing there. Both of us, we go there once or twice a year. They show us most support so we appreciate them.”

Joe Tsai, the new majority owner of the Brooklyn Nets and a Chinese national, also has weighed in on the issue.

Tsai’s perspective on this mirrors the official Chinese line, such as doing things like calling the protesters “separatist.” Also in that history should be the note that the Sino-British Joint Declaration that handed over control of Hong Kong to China from Britain said that Hong Kong’s capitalist system and way of life would remain unchanged and untouched by China for 50 years. The protesters are arguing that China is violating that and impinging on the rights and lifestyle in Hong Kong.

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for months and started with people in the semi-autonomous region protesting a new extradition law that allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent to mainland China. Those protests have grown in both size and scope, morphing into a larger movement as residents there strive to keep their freedoms and push back against what they see as growing Chinese influence and interference in the region. China itself has responded with increasingly intense crackdowns on the protesters, which included one protester being shot.

The Rockets have been one of the most popular NBA teams in China, second only to the Warriors last season, according to the “red card” report for 2019. The fact the Chinese Basketball Association announced it has ended cooperation with Rockets, and that Tencent sports will not broadcast Rockets games in China will be a blow to the team and its popularity in the world’s largest market.

Colorado junior forward Tyler Bey declares for NBA Draft

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University of Colorado forward Tyler Bey has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The junior averaged 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Buffaloes. Bey shot 53% from the field overall and 74.3% at the free throw line.

Bey also extended his range a bit in his third year at Colorado. He knocked down 13-of-31 three-pointers (41.9%) on the season. At just six-foot-seven, he’ll need to be able to score from behind the arc to find a place in the NBA.

Most draft analysts have Bey pegged as an early second-round pick. Some thought he could play his way into the back-end of the first-round with strong pre-draft workouts. With the pre-draft process up in the air, NBA front offices may have to make their decisions based on what they’ve already seen in person and on tape.

Stephon Marbury has arrangement to procure 10 million medical masks for New York

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Former NBA player Stephon Marbury told The New York Post that he’s arranged a deal to deliver 10 million N95 medical masks to New York. These masks are much-needed among healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marbury is having the masks produced at cost in China, where he played the last seven years of his career.

Although Marbury currently lives in Beijing, China, he said “At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn. This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.”

While growing up, Marbury starred at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and on New York City’s famed playgrounds. After one year at Georgia Tech, Marbury left for the NBA. The high-scoring guard played for five teams during his 13-year NBA career, including his hometown New York Knicks.

After sitting out for two seasons, Marbury signed to play for the Beijing Ducks in 2011. The move was initially seen as a way for Marbury to prove he could still play at an NBA level. Instead, Beijing became home-away-from home for the New Yorker.

Marbury averaged 21.6 points per game in 271 contests spread over seven seasons with the Ducks.

Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung told ESPN Jonathan Givony that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.

McClung first came to national prominence when his high school highlights blew up on YouTube:

In his second season at Georgetown, McClung averaged 15.7 points and 1.4 steals per game. A foot injury in late-January kept McClung out of the lineup for nearly a month. He returned for one game in late-February, but played just eight minutes off the Hoyas’ bench.

The six-foot-two guard is known for his deep shooting range and his highlight dunks. McClung’s shot is inconsistent however, as he shot under 40% in each of his first two seasons at Georgetown. McClung’s defense also needs work.

McClung projects to be a point guard in the NBA, due to his size. To make it as a lead guard, he’ll need to work on his ballhandling and playmaking. With those question marks, McClung is seen as a stretch to be drafted in the second round.

McClung stated he’s signing with an NBA/NCAA approved agent. That will allow him to keep his college eligibility as he goes through the pre-draft process.

Report: NBA Together asks players who have recovered from COVID-19 to consider donating plasma

Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert
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Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the NBA Together initiative is asking NBA players who have recovered from coronavirus to consider donating plasma:

NBA Together was created in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, as the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season.

One of the efforts NBA Together is supporting is the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. This project has brought together top medical specialists to determine if plasma donations could help in treating coronavirus.

Several NBA players have tested positive for COVID-19. This group includes Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets, Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics and Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons. All players reported either feeling no symptoms or have recovered from the affliction.