LeBron James said he will not address the turmoil between China and the NBA following the fallout of his comments regarding Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar James was critical of Morey on Monday, labelling the Rockets GM "misinformed" for his tweet about the unrest involving China and Hong Kong.

Morey issued an apology for a now-deleted tweet, that read "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong" amid the ongoing protests in the region.

The tweet angered Chinese officials and caused backlash in the Asian country against the Rockets and the NBA, which has financial interests in China worth billions of dollars.

James' comments reportedly did not go down well in Hong Kong, with the four-time MVP's jersey burned and trampled in demonstrations.

"I had a sense of [how] what I said felt for me," James said on Tuesday following questions about his comments and how they would be received in Hong Kong. "And like I said yesterday, when I speak upon things, I speak from a very logical standpoint on things that hit home for me. Yesterday, obviously, I gave thoughts on what I felt and how I saw things that transpired from that week that we were [in China]."

When asked whether he plans to learn more about the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, James added: "I plan on being here and being a captain of this team and trying to figure out how we can win a championship.

"That's my main goal right now. I feel like I talked about it yesterday. I tweeted out responses to people not understanding my knowledge and where it came from with my brain and learning from the situation. I'm talking about it now. I won't talk about it again.

"I'd be cheating my team-mates by continuing to harp on something that won't benefit us. We're trying to win a championship. That's what we're here for. We're not politicians. It's a huge political thing. But we are leaders and we can step up at times. I'm not saying at this particular time, but if you don't feel like you should speak on things, you shouldn't have to."

 

Kyle Lowry will remain with the Toronto Raptors for another two years after signing a one-year extension on Tuesday.

The reigning NBA champions confirmed the All-Star guard had agreed a new deal and, according to Lowry's agent Mark Bartelstein, the extension is for a further year and worth $31million.

Lowry had one year left on his old contract and will earn $33.3m this season, with the fresh extension keeping him off the free agent market next summer. 

“Kyle has been at the heart of every successful run our franchise has achieved the past seven seasons,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. “He is a competitor, a winner at every level and the engine that our players and city feed off from.”

Lowry, 33, added he was proud of the success he had experienced in Toronto so far.

"I'm very proud of what we have achieved with the Raptors, and I'm happy to be able to continue to call Toronto my home,” Lowry said.

"Bringing a championship to the city of Toronto and the country of Canada has been one the best things I've done so far in my career, and I'll push for that goal every single year I play this game.”

Since Lowry joined the Raptors in 2012, he has been part of five All-Star teams. He is entering his 15th season in the league and eighth with Toronto, which makes him the longest-tenured player on the roster.

During the Raptors' postseason run in the last campaign, Lowry averaged 15.0 points per game with 6.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 37.5 minutes of play.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James criticised Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for his "misinformed" tweet about the unrest between China and Hong Kong.

Rockets GM Morey issued an apology for a now-deleted tweet, that read "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong" amid the ongoing protests in the region.

The tweet angered Chinese officials and caused backlash in the Asian country against the Rockets and the NBA, which has financial interests in China worth billions of dollars.

James was asked about the situation on Monday and while he believes in free speech, the four-time MVP was not happy with Morey's comments.

"I don't want to get into a ... feud with Daryl but I believe he wasn't educated about the situation at hand and he spoke," James told reporters. "So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually.

"Just be careful what we tweet ... even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech. But there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too."

Morey quickly issued a clarification on his tweet at the time, saying it reflected his opinion, not that of the Rockets or the NBA. The NBA issued an apology to China, which in turn drew widespread and bipartisan condemnation in the United States.

"I think when we talk about the political side, I think it's a very delicate situation," James, who was speaking prior to the preseason matchup against the Golden State Warriors, added. "Very sensitive situation. For me personally, if any of you guys know me or always cover me, you guys know when I speak about something, I speak about something I'm very knowledgeable about. Something that hits home for me. Something I'm very passionate about.

"I feel like with this particular situation, not only was I not informed enough about — I just felt like it was something not only myself or my team-mates or our organisation had enough information to even talk about it at that point in time. And we still feel the same way."

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said he prefers Adam Silver's leadership to that of United States president Donald Trump.

Popovich was responding to criticism from Trump, who blasted the Spurs coach and Golden State Warriors counterpart Steve Kerr last week for their responses to questions about the NBA-China controversy.

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey issued an apology for a now-deleted tweet, that read "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong" amid the ongoing protests in the region.

While Popovich and Kerr unwilling to discuss the matter, NBA president Silver drew praise for his response after saying the league was "apologetic" but added that "we are not apologising for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression".

Popovich – who has been critical of Trump in the past – told reporters prior to the Spurs' 123-114 preseason loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday: "[Silver] stood by our nation and its principles. That's pretty huge in these days.

"Sometimes, it's kind of Orwellian. You think we're living in a place where, 'Is this really happening?' But that comparison was pretty stark when you put our president up against those leaders when he's with them or talking to him and how he reacts compared to the way Adam Silver reacted. I was proud of him. It was great."

Asked about Trump's comments, Popovich added: "All I did was make a comparison between Adam Silver's show of principle and courage in a tough situation, as opposed to how our president reacts when in the company of authoritarian figures, whether it's Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Russia or Turkey, whatever it is.

"It comes off as really feckless, impotent, cowardly by comparison."

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said superstar Stephen Curry is ready to have a great season in the NBA.

Following the departure of Kevin Durant in free agency and Klay Thompson's knee injury in the NBA Finals in June, all eyes are on Curry for the 2019-20 campaign.

Kerr spoke with media after Golden State's practice on Sunday and was asked if Curry will be tasked to do more this season in the wake of Durant's departure and Thompson's injury.

"Just the usual," Kerr said. "I'm not looking for anything different than what he's done for five years, but what he's done is pretty special: two MVPs and a perennial top-five player."

Kerr went on to say Curry's had an "incredible camp" so far and thinks the two-time MVP is in position for a special season.

"To me, he's at his peak physically, mentally," Kerr said. "He's seen every defense that people have thrown at him now during his career, and he's ready to have a great year.

"He's in his prime age-wise, strength and conditioning-wise and defensively he's seen everything that's come his way... So he's kind of in his sweet spot right now, and he has been the last couple years. And hopefully that continues for the next few years."

While Thompson is not expected to return to the team until at least February or March, Curry will not need to bear too much of a burden as the Warriors signed former Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell to a four-year, $117million contract during free agency.

"It's just the natural way of our offense and how we play," Curry said. "I'm going to have the ball in my hands a lot more. Just got to make the right plays, be confident, aggressive, assertive every possession." 

"Steph's smart," Kerr added. "And he realises what we've lost in the last couple of years from a veteran leadership standpoint. So he understands he's got more responsibility in that regard now."

The Warriors visit the Los Angeles Lakers for a preseason matchup on Monday, before Golden State open the regular season against the Los Angeles Clippers on October 24.

Anthony Davis became the latest star to suffer an injury during NBA preseason as the Brooklyn Nets eased to a 91-77 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in China.

Davis suffered a sprained thumb midway through the first quarter, joining the Nets' Kyrie Irving on the sidelines after he aggravated a facial injury in the sides' previous meeting on Thursday.

Star Lakers signing Davis tweaked his thumb while going up to block a shot at the rim, staying in the game for a short period before heading to the locker room for further evaluation.

He came back to the sidelines with an ice pack taped to his right hand and was ruled out for the rest of the game.

Davis served as the starting center, finishing the game with six points while shooting 2-of-7 from the field - both buckets coming off assists from LeBron James.

The former New Orleans Pelicans superstar added three rebounds and two blocks in 12 minutes before leaving due to the injury.

Los Angeles were able to keep it close through the first half but saw the Nets pull clear in the third quarter as Caris LeVert shone in Irving's absence.

LeVert left the previous clash early with a knock, but he scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbed four rebounds. Taurean Prince also played a big role off the bench with 14 points.

The game brought to an end a trip to China that has been clouded in controversy stemming from a since-deleted tweet by Daryl Morey earlier this week, with the Houston Rockets GM supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

The two scheduled fixtures went ahead but all media availability was cancelled, overshadowing what had been expected to be a celebration of the NBA in one of its key international markets.

As the teams return to the United States, the Lakers' next preseason game is set for Monday against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.

The Nets host the Toronto Raptors next on Friday at Barclays Center.

Zion Williamson rose to the occasion on his first home match as an NBA player, scoring a game-high 26 points in the New Orleans Pelicans' preseason win over the Utah Jazz.

The Pelicans triumphed 128-127, with Williamson's impressive points tally coming in only 23 minutes on the court.

Drafted number one overall ahead of the 2019-20 season, the 19-year-old also had five rebounds and a plus-minus of +13, the best recorded by a player on either team.

Williamson shot 9-of-12 from the field, draining his only three-point attempt from 25 feet of the match to score his first in the professional ranks.

He battled with the Jazz's defensive star Rudy Gobert, delighting the sold-out crowd at the Smoothie King Center by making two layups against the Frenchman, collecting two fouls and following up his one miss in their enthralling head-to-head with a two-handed slam.

"You gotta give him respect, two-time Defensive Player of the Year," Williamson said of Gobert after the game. 

"I just went in there strong and tried to finish."

Of his first career three, Williamson added: "It was great, my first instinct was how to get back on defense as coach gets upset about that. 

"Hopefully I get a lot more of them throughout the year.

"It was great to finally get out here and see the support we have here in New Orleans. I'm glad they came out, hopefully we'll see them all season. I hope I can continue to play the way I am."

Prior to facing the Jazz, he had 29 points in 27 minutes against the Chicago Bulls after a 16-point debut against the Atlanta Hawks.

Gobert took solace in not being dunked on by Williamson but said: "He has a great future ahead of him.

"He's kind of surprisingly agile and I think he catches a lot of people off guard because of that. He can change direction pretty quick."

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving will not face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in Saturday's NBA preseason fixture after aggravating a facial fracture.

Irving left Brooklyn's 114-111 win over the Lakers early on Thursday due to the problem he suffered over the offseason.

The Nets announced on Friday that Irving will not feature against the Lakers at Shenzhen Dayun Arena in China.

Irving suffered the injury just one minute into Thursday's contest after being bumped by Lakers guard Rajon Rondo. He did not record a point, rebound or assist.

This is not Irving's first run-in with this kind of injury.

The 27-year-old point guard suffered a minor facial fracture playing for the Boston Celtics in November 2017 after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face during a game.

He also broke his jaw in December 2012 while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Whether this problem will affect his success in his first season with the Nets remains to be seen.

Irving signed a four-year, $141million deal in the offseason alongside Kevin Durant, who also signed a max contract but will likely miss all of 2019-20 recovering from an Achilles injury.

A six-time All-Star, Irving has averaged 22.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists in his career.

Kyrie Irving's Brooklyn Nets debut lasted just a minute as the much-discussed NBA preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers went ahead in Shanghai on Thursday.

Irving, who signed for the Nets alongside the injured Kevin Durant for the upcoming season, was trying to play through a facial fracture suffered in a pickup game last month, wearing a clear mask.

However, the former Boston Celtics star appeared to aggravate the issue early on as he clashed with Rajon Rondo and was immediately withdrawn.

The contest at least finally meant some basketball was played amid a week of controversy stemming from a since-deleted tweet by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

Morey's comments overshadowed what had been expected to be a celebration of the NBA in one of their key international markets in China.

Some fallout continued, with media duties for both teams and league commissioner Adam Silver cancelled, but the game represented a brief respite from a tumultuous few days.

The Nets prevailed 114-111 as some of the NBA's top stars took to the floor, although Caris LeVert followed Irving in making an early exit with an apparent eye problem.

Their absences made Spencer Dinwiddie the key man as he scored 20 points and Taurean Prince added 18 to lead six Nets in double figures.

LeBron James scored 20 points in 24 minutes to pace the Lakers, as he and Anthony Davis (16 points in 25 minutes) shared the floor as team-mates for the first time.

Brooklyn's Theo Pinson broke 111-111 tie with 20.9 seconds to play by hitting the second of two free throws, before Dzanan Musa's dunk with nine seconds left capped the scoring.

Los Angeles had a last shot to tie on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's three-pointer as the clock ran down, but it bounced away.

United States president Donald Trump blasted Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and San Antonio Spurs boss Gregg Popovich for their responses to questions about the NBA-China controversy.

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey issued an apology on Sunday for a now-deleted tweet, that read "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong" amid the ongoing protests in the region.

The issue has highlighted the NBA's relationship with China, which Kerr was noncommittal about on Monday when asked about the fallout from Morey.

Kerr and Popovich have been highly critical of Trump in the past and the country's leader was scathing of the NBA coaches.

"I watched this guy, Steve Kerr, and he was like a little boy who was so scared to be even answering the question," Trump told reporters Wednesday when asked about Kerr's refusal to discuss the issue.

"He couldn't answer the question. He was shaking. 'Oh, I don't know. I don't know.' He didn't know how to answer the question. And yet he'll talk about the United States very badly."

On Popovich – who was also reluctant to discuss the issue of protests in Hong Kong – Trump said: "I watched Popovich. Sort of the same thing, but he didn't look quite as scared actually.

"But they talk badly about the United States, but when it talks about China, they don't want to say anything bad. I thought it was pretty sad actually. It'll be very interesting."

Trump added: "I watch the way that Kerr and Popovich and some of the others were pandering to China, and yet to our own country, it's like they don't respect it.

"It's like they don't respect it. I said, 'What a difference – isn't it sad?' It's very sad. To me, it's very sad."

Made aware of Trump's comments about Kerr, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry – who has also been critical of the US president – replied: "welcome Steve to the club".

Kevin Durant thinks the New York Knicks are not "the cool thing right now", which is why they have struggled to land big names in free agency.

Ten-time NBA All-Star Durant was long touted as a potential target for the Knicks, along with Kyrie Irving, and became an unrestricted free agent after declining his player option with the Golden State Warriors.

However, the 2014 MVP – who sustained an Achilles tear in Game 5 of the NBA Finals and is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season – signed a four-year, $164million contract with the Brooklyn Nets.

Durant will team up with Irving at Barclays Center, while Kawhi Leonard plumped for the Los Angeles Clippers as the Knicks came up empty-handed.

Explaining his decision in an interview with Hot 97 in New York, Durant said: "I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players — who in their lifetime don't remember the Knicks being good — [to look at it the same way].

"I didn't grow up with the Knicks being good. Well, I remember the Knicks being in the Finals, but the kids after me didn't see that. So, the brand of the Knicks to them isn't as cool to them as, let's say, the Golden State Warriors or even the Lakers or the Nets now.

"The cool thing right now is not the Knicks."

Durant admitted he "thought about" signing with the Knicks, but never seriously considered it.

"It's just a thought," he added. "I didn't really do any full analysis on the Knicks.

"Basketball is the most important thing for me, so playing with Kyrie, DeAndre Jordan, the young players they've [the Nets] got, was key.

"Playing with Golden State, playing with an older group, I thought it was time for me to kind of impose my will on a younger group.

"I just wanted to be around a nice group of young players and also a good mix of vets."

Zion Williamson described his NBA debut as "a lot of fun" after he produced one of his customary dunks in the New Orleans Pelicans' preseason win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Williamson was on the floor for 28 minutes of the Pelicans' 133-109 victory in Atlanta, with the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft scoring 16 points to go along with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

He also produced a moment which showed just why he is one of the most hyped prospects to enter the league, driving at Hawks center Damian Jones and bypassing his attempted block to finish with authority.

"It was a lot of fun," Williamson said afterwards.

"First NBA game – it's not going to count on the record – but it's the first one of hopefully many and I'm glad I can get that one under my belt."

Discussing his dunk on Jones, he added: "I just saw the lane open up and this isn't high school or college anymore, you've got to go up strong so I went up strong and I was able to finish."

However, Williamson was keen to stress he is so much more than just a player capable of producing highlight-worthy plays.

"I don't think just dunking would have got me here," he said.

"I had to be somewhat of a good basketball player to get here, so whenever I have a chance to showcase my other abilities I try."

While it appeared that Williamson was enjoying himself, he noted that he still has plenty to learn.

He was 0-for-2 on three-point attempts and was heckled by the crowd for missing a free-throw try, ending up 4-for-7 from the line.

"If it was up to me I'd probably be out there laughing and joking a lot more," Williamson admitted.

"But I'm a rookie, I’m trying to feel things out. If I feel like I can do a lot more laughing and playing, I'm going to do it. But for now I'm low-key."

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry wants the comparisons of Zion Williamson to LeBron James to stop.

Williamson, the top pick in the 2019 draft, has been touted as one of the NBA's next greats, which has led to him being likened to future Hall of Famer James

However, Gentry wants to nip such talk in the bud as the preseason gets underway.

"They shouldn't do that [comparing]," the Pelicans coach said, via ESPN. "We are not doing that. We are comparing Zion to Zion. We want Zion to be the best Zion Williamson that he can be. Not anybody else. We want him to be the best basketball player he can become using his name and no comparison.

"I know that it's inevitable that that's going to be the case, but we are not drinking that Kool-Aid."

Williamson garnered buzz during his lone season with Duke, where it was quickly projected he would be the first overall pick in the draft.

"There's very few guys — at 19 years old — who can come in and impact this league," Gentry said. "There's one in California but there's also not anybody like him."

Despite the hype, Williamson and Gentry seem to be trying to have fun before the season.

When Williamson walked past Gentry as he was talking to reporters, he joked: "Did they ask about me?" 

Gentry replied: "Now why would they do that?"

Williamson will take to the court in his first preseason game on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks.

Kyle Lowry has agreed a one-year, $31million contract extension with the Toronto Raptors. 

The All-Star guard's agent, Mark Bartelstein, revealed that an extra 12 months has been added to a deal which still has one year left and is worth $33.3million.

Lowry's extension will keep him off the free agent market next year.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri, general manager Bobby Webster and Lowry's agents at Priority Sports have been trying to work out an extension for months. 

Bartelstein said the way Toronto handled the situation and the importance the organisation placed on Lowry made a huge impact.

"We are so appreciative of how Masai and Bobby handled every aspect of this negotiation," Bartelstein told ESPN.

"Once again, they displayed how they look after their players in a first-class manner, especially someone like Kyle who they recognise has such a legacy with the franchise."

Lowry, 34, has said that he wants to finish his career with Toronto and that he was not looking forward to hitting the free agency market.

Now that the Raptors are coming off their NBA title-winning season, the team is eager to build up its roster with Lowry as a key centerpiece.

Lowry becomes the first player older than 33 to get an extension that includes a first-year salary-cap hit north of $30 million. However, he is still eligible to be traded this upcoming season.

Since Lowry joined the Raptors in 2012, he has been part of five All-Star teams. He is entering his 15th season in the league and eighth with Toronto, which makes him the longest-tenured player on the roster.

During the Raptors' postseason run, Lowry averaged 15.0 points per game with 6.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 37.5 minutes of play.

Draymond Green said there is a lack of familiarity at the Golden State Warriors as the NBA Finals runners-up work on their chemistry following roster changes.

It has been a busy offseason for the Warriors after going down to the Toronto Raptors in the Finals, losing All-Star Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets via free agency.

Veterans Andre Iguodala (traded to the Memphis Grizzlies) and Shaun Livingston (retired) also departed as the Warriors acquired D'Angelo Russell and a number of young recruits.

With the Warriors eyeing a sixth successive trip to the Finals, star Green spoke to reporters after Friday's practice and said: "A lot different. But it's fun, though.

"Just the lack of familiarity. You get used to a certain thing for so long, and then it's not that. The normal reads that you would make, just kind of second nature, you got to make sure they're there.

"It's just a lot more making sure everyone's on the same page, or getting there. Everybody's not on the same page, which is to be expected, so just getting everybody there is the difference."

Green, who will lead the way alongside Stephen Curry as Klay Thompson recovers from a serious knee injury, added: "It's time. It's reps. Just kind of getting those reps. Figuring guys out, getting to know each other. That's a huge part of basketball, too, getting to know each other ... That will come with time.

"It's no tough love right now. You figure that stuff out as time goes on. But none of us really know each other, except a few. So you can't give a guy you don't know tough love, that's fake as hell. If you're going to give somebody tough love, you don't even know if you love that person or not yet. So you can't give somebody tough love at this point, you just got to teach 'em."

The Warriors will open their preseason against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.

Golden State will get their first taste of Chase Center in San Francisco, after saying goodbye to Oracle Arena following 47 years in Oakland.

Asked about Golden State's new home, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said: "I think mainly the noise. It's hard to judge on a preseason game, but it feels like they did a really good job keeping the seats as close to the floor as possible.

"Some of the new arenas feel so vacuous, and this feels pretty intimate. I think we're going to have a really loud atmosphere in here, but we'll see."

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