Silver: China asked for Rockets GM Daryl Morey to be fired

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Chinese officials wanted Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to be fired for his tweet supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, and the league emphatically dismissed the request.

Silver also said that the league is already feeling “substantial” financial losses because of the Chinese reaction to Morey’s deleted tweet.

“Obviously, we made clear that we were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business,” Silver said Thursday in New York. “We said, ‘There’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.’”

Silver also said he isn’t sure what will happen to the NBA’s relationship with China, which has been growing steadily over the past three decades. The league and LeBron James, one of its biggest stars, have been heavily criticized by some U.S. lawmakers for the perception that they caved to the Chinese regime. Morey has not been rebuked publicly by the league, and Silver has said that the league will support his freedom of expression.

“I understand there is a point of view from some that we shouldn’t be in business at all in China, and I’d say from an intellectual standpoint, that’s fair — not getting into whether the tweet or the response to it,” Silver said. “But if people believe that we shouldn’t be engaged in commerce in China or frankly in other places in the world … I, at some point, look to the American government.

“We’re in the middle of negotiating a trade agreement,” Silver continued. “Many multinational corporations do trade extensively with China. And if that’s ultimately how our government feels we should be dealing with China, again, we are a U.S. company.”

Wizards extend Neal: Bradley Beal signed a two-year, $72 million contract extension with Washington, a move that will keep the All-Star guard out of free agency for at least the next three summers.

Beal still had two years left on his existing contract. The extension kicks in for the 2021-22 season, has a player option for the following year and means that Beal won’t be part of what has been shaping up to be an NBA free-agent extravaganza in the summer of 2021.

“It’s a blessing, man — for one, that they even consider me a franchise player, a piece of this organization in itself,” Beal said. “And I was prideful of that. You don’t get that type of love and respect and responsibility from anywhere.”

The Wizards were willing to give Beal a three-year extension that would have been worth about $111 million. Beal went the two-year route and that protects his future options — he could opt out of the deal in the summer of 2022, coinciding with his 10th year in the league.

Beal was 12th in the league last season at a career-best 25.6 points per game.

Contract talks: The Lakers exercised their fourth-year contract option on forward Kyle Kuzma for the 2020-21 season. Kuzma will make over $3.56 million next season; he is making $1.97 million this season.

• Also picking up a fourth-year option for 2020-21 were the Pistons for guard Luke Kennard, who averaged 9.7 points last season and shot 39% from 3-point range.

• The Jazz will pick up center Tony Bradley’s fourth-year option, the Athletic reported.

Briefly: Cavaliers center Ante Zizic will be out at least four weeks because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot, the team announced. … Two-time All-Star forward Luol Deng signed with the Bulls and retired as a member of the team that drafted him. The No. 7 overall pick in 2004, Deng, 34, averaged 14.8 points and 6.1 rebounds over 15 seasons with Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Silver-China-asked-for-Rockets-GM-Daryl-Morey-to-14543462.php.

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