Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morrey started an international situation with China following his now-deleted tweet where he stood behind Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. The protests are a touchy subject with the Chinese government, who promptly paused all sponsorships with the Rockets while canceling their two preseason games set to be played in China. This is big news as the Rockets are one of, if not the most popular team in China after Hall of Famer Yao Ming played his entire career in Houston.
The NBA’s league office and the Rockets organization have since come out to emphatically state that they do not share Morrey’s views, though it seems that may have only made matters worse. In fact, numerous politicians have come out condemning the NBA for their perceived prioritization of money over basic human rights.
Lakers Headed to China Amid Controversy to Face Nets
While the Rockets had their preseason exhibitions canceled, the Lakers and Nets still have the green light for their two matchups in Shanghai and Shenzhen. The Lakers are flying out to China today and undoubtedly will enter a tough to navigate political environment. The Chinese public was infuriated by Morey’s tweet and the team will undoubtedly be asked tough questions on the situation by local media.
The Lakers will face the Nets on October 10th in Shanghai before playing again on the 12th in Shenzhen. Following their pair of matchups with the Nets, the Lakers come home for three more preseason games against the Golden State Warriors before kicking off the regular season on October 22nd against the Clippers.
Lakers Looking to Build on Strong Preseason Showing Against Warriors
With a statement win over the Golden State Warriors in their first preseason matchup, the Lakers put the rest of the NBA on notice. While nearly everyone expected the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis to dominate, the pair exceeded all expectations in their first game together. Playing only 18 minutes apiece, Davis poured in a 22 point double-double while James posted a very well-rounded 15/4/8 stat line. The pair had a +19 rating during their time spent on the court together.
Free agent acquisition Danny Green looked to be locked in during his first preseason game, knocking down 40% of his deep balls. Green was the recipient of numerous wide-open looks and the veteran sharpshooter should only get more comfortable knocking those down as the Lakers get closer to the regular season.
New pickup Avery Bradley also shined defensively. While he struggled with his shot on a scoreless night, Bradley harassed Steph Curry up and down the court and was a major factor in helping the Lakers jump out to a big early lead. Bradly surprisingly drew the start and given the success of the unit, he could find himself as the full-time starting option at point guard (though LeBron technically handled the point guard’s offensive duties).
While the political situation in China ahead of their matchup with the Nets might look murky, from a basketball standpoint the Lakers seem more than ready to go out and dominate.