Sources: Adam Silver had tense meeting with Lakers, Nets players in China

NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a tense meeting with players from the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers last week when he arrived in Shanghai, sources told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.

During the meeting, sources said, several prominent players voiced frustration about their perception that they were being put in the middle of the dispute between the NBA and China, and they said they were unhappy about being asked to address the situation by local Chinese reporters before Silver himself was scheduled to do so.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The relationship between the league and China was disrupted after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong on Oct. 4. Morey later deleted his tweet, an image that read, “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong,” and clarified the intent in two subsequent tweets. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta denounced the tweet and said the Rockets were “not a political organization” and that Morey did not speak for the team.6

During the meeting with the players, sources said, Silver was directly asked whether anything would happen to Morey, as several players said they believed that if a player had cost the NBA millions of dollars because of a tweet, there would be repercussions.

Morey will not face any league discipline for the tweet.

The teams were in China to play two preseason games in front of the country’s avid basketball fans. Officials in both countries have said as many as 500 million Chinese watched at least one NBA game last season.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Chinese officials eventually severed a cooperative agreement with the Rockets, and China’s state television broadcaster canceled plans to air the games. Several NBA Cares activities with the players also were canceled, as was press availability with the teams and some Chinese sponsorships.

Silver said the NBA was “apologetic” over the reaction to Morey’s tweets and the actions that occurred afterward, but he refused to apologize, saying, “We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression.”

The Rockets have a large following in China, partly because Yao Ming, the team’s former star center, is president of China’s basketball association.

LeBron James: Daryl Morey was ‘misinformed’ before sending tweet about China and Hong Kong

LeBron James believes Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey “wasn’t educated” before he sent the tweet in support of antigovernment protesters in Hong Kong that damaged relations between China and the NBA.

Speaking to the media for the first time since Morey’s tweet on Oct. 4 set off a firestorm, James declined to comment about the politically tense situation between China and the NBA but did talk about Morey’s tweet and how it has jeopardized the relationship between China and the league, owners, teams and players.

When asked why he thinks Morey wasn’t properly informed about the unrest in Hong Kong before he tweeted support for protesters, James said it is “just my belief.”

“I believe he was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it,” James said. “I have no idea, but that is just my belief. Because when you say things or do things, if you are doing it and you know the people that can be affected by it and the families and individuals and everyone that can be affected by it, sometimes things can be changed as well. And also social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well, but that’s just my belief.”

Soon after speaking with reporters, James took to social media to “clear up the confusion.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk about that,” James said in a tweet.5

“My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it,” James added in a second tweet.

Hong Kong has seen months of protests and increasing violence between demonstrators and police sparked by a proposal that would have allowed extradition from the semiautonomous territory to mainland China.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The Lakers played two preseason games against the Brooklyn Nets in China, and the situation was tense. The teams did not know if the games would be played upon their arrival in Shanghai, where NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a tense meeting with players from both teams last week, sources told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.

During the meeting, sources said, several prominent players voiced frustration about their perception that they were being put in the middle of the dispute between the NBA and China, and they said they were unhappy about being asked by local Chinese reporters to address the situation before Silver was scheduled to do so.

“I think when we talk about the political side, it was a very delicate situation, a very sensitive situation,” James said. “And for me personally, you guys know that when I speak about something, I speak about something I’m very knowledgeable about, something I’m very passionate about. I feel like with this particular situation, it was something not only I was not informed enough about … I just felt like it was something that not only myself or my teammates or my organization had enough information to even talk about it at that point in time, and we still feel the same way.”

After Morey’s tweet created an international controversy, the Rockets general manager deleted it and attempted to clarify his intent in subsequent tweets. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta denounced the original tweet and said that the Rockets were “not a political organization” and Morey did not speak for the team.

QB Sam Darnold throws for 338 yards and 2 TDs in 24-22 win over Cowboys

Sam Darnold beat mononucleosis, and the New York Jets defeated the losing bug.

Unfazed by a three-game layoff, Darnold played one of the best games of his young career and sparked the Jets to their first win, 24-22 over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

“When you’re out for so long like I was, you realize this game is a privilege to play it,” said Darnold, who passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns.

With a hard-plastic guard protecting his back and previously enlarged spleen, Darnold said he “took a couple of shots” in the game, but he wasn’t worried about the possibility of his spleen rupturing. He was medically cleared only five days ago, five weeks after the diagnosis.

Showing no rust, Darnold knew from the first play — a 17-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas — he was destined for a big day. The highlight was a 92-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, the second-longest scoring pass in Jets history.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“Sam is a special player,” running back Le’Veon Bell said. “You’ve got a guy in there who’s able to make plays, get the ball down field and get everybody lined up perfectly, getting them out of the huddle — a vocal leader. … We’ve been missing that these last couple of weeks.”7

That’s an understatement.

With Trevor Siemian (one start) and Luke Falk (two starts) at quarterback, the Jets’ offense managed only one touchdown and averaged only 165 total yards per game. On Sunday, they produced three touchdowns and 383 total yards.

Falk played so poorly that he was released on Saturday. Head coach Adam Gase opted for the recently signed David Fales as his No. 2 quarterback.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Publicly, the Jets’ coaches tried to downplay Darnold’s return, with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains saying last week, “Sam is not a magic wand.” But, in a way, he was.

Gase was so happy to have Darnold back in the lineup that he kept calling pass plays later in the game, when running the ball and milking the clock might have been the conventional choice. The Jets nearly blew a 21-3 lead, stopping a two-point conversion in the final minute to preserve the win.

“There was a lot of good,” Gase said of Darnold, whose lone mistake was a red zone interception in the third quarter. “His pocket movement creates a lot of opportunities, and our guys did a good job of moving with him.”

Source: Patriots expected to re-sign TE Benjamin Watson

The New England Patriots are expected to re-sign veteran tight end Benjamin Watson, a league source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

When the Patriots released Watson on Oct. 7, head coach Bill Belichick said the team didn’t have a roster spot for him upon his return from a four-game NFL suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. But injuries have altered the picture, so Watson, who spent training camp with the club and has experience with the system, will return and project as an immediate contributor.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

His return comes after fullback Jakob Johnson (shoulder) and tight end Matt LaCosse (knee) were knocked out of Thursday’s win over the New York Giants. Coupled with an injury to receiver Josh Gordon (knee), it forced the Patriots into one personnel grouping for the entire second half, a situation that quarterback Tom Brady said he couldn’t remember ever happening in his 20-year career.5

Watson, 38, joins LaCosse and second-year player Ryan Izzo as tight ends on the roster. His return should please Brady.

“Ben’s a great player. He’s been a great player for this team, for other teams. He’s had an incredible career,” Brady said last week. “He was right next to me [in the locker room], and for as great as a player he was, he was 10 times a better person, just the highest integrity. I can’t say enough good things about Ben, what he’s meant to me, my family, our team.”nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Edwin van der Sar: Strong characters have ‘disappeared’ at Manchester United

Legendary goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has attributed Manchester United’s struggles to the disappearance of strong characters in the dressing room, and said the situation at Old Trafford is “a long way” from the club he left eight years ago.

Van der Sar spent the final six seasons of his decorated career with the Red Devils, winning four Premier League titles and playing in three Champions League finals with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. However, United have fallen on hard times since Ferguson’s departure in 2013 and are in the midst of their worst-ever start to a Premier League campaign.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

When asked to comment on the difficult times Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team is facing, the former Netherlands international, who was a teammate of Solskjaer’s at United, told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview: “Of course it’s difficult. I left there eight years ago and it was a tremendous last six years of my career, winning four Premier League titles and playing in three Champions League finals.6

“So it’s a long way from the position where they are in now,” van der Sar said. “And of course they have changed managers a couple times now and the real progress is not seen yet, only the thing that they bought in the summer. They bought younger, inexperienced players with a certain desire and hunger, and not like the big names they bought the last six, seven years.”

Upon joining United from Fulham in the summer of 2005, the former Ajax and Juventus star walked into a dressing room full of established veteran leadership — a makeup, he says, that is much unlike today’s team.

“I think for ourselves, when I came in the dressing room we had Ryan Giggs, you had [Paul] Scholes, you had [Rio] Ferdinand, [Gary] Neville and even Roy Keane at that time. So I think there’s always been strong characters. And I think for the last couple of years the strong characters have disappeared and [are] not making a difference anymore,” van der Sar said.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Though despite the recent rocky times, van der Sar said he believes that United still have the power to attract top players capable of leading them back to glory.

“Of course, the name is there. And of course the following they have all over the world,” he said.

“But for a player […] you want to play at a certain level, you also want to have an idea that you can win trophies and they must take that opportunity also to improve the squad and make the world-class players they have, or the players that they’re going to sign, that they feel welcome and that there’s a good path to where they’re going to go to.”

England’s limited midfield will keep them from winning Euro 2020

England are becoming accustomed to reality checks, but they don’t seem to be learning from them.

Friday’s 2-1 away defeat against the Czech Republic, after FC Dallas striker Zdenek Ondrasek netted an 85th-minute winner for the home side, left England still needing at least one more victory in Group A to be certain of qualification for Euro 2020.

“We didn’t use the ball well enough,” Southgate said. “And in terms of a wake-up call, I think we’ve had a lot of plaudits, but we’ve always maintained that there’s a lot of work to be done to be a really top team. I think tonight was clear evidence of that. We have to respond in the right way.”

In many ways, it was the same story when England lost 2-1 to Croatia in the World Cup semifinal in Moscow in 2018 and again this summer, when the Netherlands secured a 3-1 win in the Nations League semifinal in Guimaraes to deny England a place in the inaugural final of UEFA’s new tournament. On each occasion, and against the Czechs, England’s inability to control the game from midfield proved their downfall.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

But in Prague, where England have never beaten the Czechs since their first meeting against the old Czechoslovakia in 1934, there were even more alarm bells ringing.5

Both full-backs — Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier — were poor defensively and in possession, prompting questions over their selection for this game ahead of the more in-form Ben Chilwell and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Kyle Walker, the treble-winning right-back at Manchester City last season, failed to even make the squad. And in the heart of England’s defence, Everton’s Michael Keane simply looked well short of international class against Harry Maguire, the world’s most expensive defender.

England’s strengths — their attacking options — were largely nullified by the Czechs because the home side were able to control a midfield that was far too cautious and limited in the shape of Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Ranked 44th in the FIFA World Ranking, the Czech Republic are a competent team, but they are not the force of old, when they produced top-class players such as Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky and Patrik Berger. England have traditionally made easy work of teams ranked some distance below them, only failing when they come up against the established powers, but they were outsmarted and outplayed in every department by Jaroslav Silhavy’s side, who lost 5-0 at Wembley earlier this year.

It is the midfield area that is the biggest concern, however. Defensively, Southgate has options such as Joe Gomez, John Stones and perhaps even Axel Tuanzebe, but in midfield, the cupboard is bare.

Liverpool captain Henderson has his qualities. He is a motivator and offers endless energy, but at this level, his passing range is painfully short of what is required. Those shortcomings would not be such a problem if he were deployed alongside a midfielder with the ability to dictate the tempo with his passing and ability to carry the ball forward, but his partner against the Czechs was Rice, who pretty much does the same job as Henderson.

Cardinals set postseason record with 10 runs in first inning, reach NLCS

Fans were barely in their seats for the decisive fifth game of the National League Division Series before the St. Louis Cardinals made history, becoming the first team to score 10 runs in the first inning of a postseason game en route to a 13-1 win.

“I’ve never seen that in the postseason,” Cardinals veteran catcher Yadier Molina said after the blowout. “We put the ball in play. We saw the ball better.”

Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz lasted just one-third of an inning before he was pulled with the bases loaded and the home team trailing 4-0.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“I knew we had him on the ropes,” third baseman Matt Carpenter said. “I’m just trying to take a good at-bat and extend the inning. It felt like we blinked, and it was 10. It happened so fast.”6

Foltynewicz walked Carpenter with the bases loaded, the first of two walks in the inning with three Cardinals on base. Reliever Max Fried didn’t fare much better than the starter, walking Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty to make it 5-0 before allowing a pair of two-run doubles to Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong.

“One out, bases loaded, second time up in the inning, I’m just trying to put something in play to the outfield,” Fowler said.

When it looked like the Braves finally had the third out on Marcell Ozuna’s strikeout, the ball got away from catcher Brian McCann, who fell down trying to retrieve it, allowing Ozuna to reach and the 10th run to come home.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

The Braves missed a chance to get out of the inning after allowing one run. Freddie Freeman could not field a hard-hit ball that the first baseman could have turned into an inning-ending double play.

Asked after the game how much blame he thinks he should shoulder for the Braves’ elimination, Freeman said “all of it.”

“I didn’t come through,” said Freeman, who matched his hit total in the first four games by going 2-for-4 in Game 5. “I know everybody is going to say what they want to say, but it’s on me.”

Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson had his teammate’s back, saying the Braves would not have reached the postseason without Freeman.

“Freddie Freeman is one of the best players in baseball,” Donaldson said. “You never expect him to make a mistake. The guy has been on point all season long.”

Brian Snitker says Braves will need time to recover from latest playoff flop

One day later, Brian Snitker had shed his uniform but was still wearing the pain of yet another one-and-done postseason exit for the Atlanta Braves.

“It’s going to take me a while to kind of get over this whole thing,” the manager said Thursday.

Snitker and general manager Alex Anthopoulos had no quick explanations for the Braves’ record-tying 10th straight loss in a postseason round. After splitting the first four games of the National League Division Series, the Braves were bowled over and embarrassed in a 13-1 loss to St. Louis in Wednesday’s Game 5.

“You throw that one away,” Anthopoulos said, while adding that the loss was “a tough pill to swallow. … From my standpoint in the front office, we need to turn the page quick.”cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

The Cardinals’ knockout blow was quick and decisive — 10 runs in the first inning.5

“It happened so quick, I don’t think there was anything we could do,” Snitker said.

The Braves have won two straight NL East titles but haven’t won a postseason series since 2001. Atlanta tied the Chicago Cubs’ record for consecutive losses in playoff rounds.

The inability to end that drought hurt more than one year ago, when Atlanta lost to the Dodgers. Management and players believed this team had the talent to play deep into the postseason.

“We weren’t just glad to be here this year,” Snitker said. “There wasn’t a guy in that room just glad to be here.”

Added third baseman Josh Donaldson, who homered in the loss: “I think what is disappointing about it, I feel like all year we played better than we did today.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

There could be significant turnover before spring training.

Catcher Brian McCann announced his retirement after the loss. Anthopoulos said the team will try to re-sign Donaldson, the third baseman who will be a free agent.

The Braves have 2020 team options — and face possibly difficult decisions — with starting pitcher Julio Teheran, outfielder Nick Markakis, catcher Tyler Flowers and others.

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry gets 1-year, $31M extension

Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors have agreed on a one-year, $31 million contract extension that takes the five-time All-Star guard out of July’s free-agent market, agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports told ESPN.

The extension guarantees Lowry two years and $64 million on the books — including the $33.3 million left on his expiring contract this season.

Toronto president Masai Ujiri, general manager Bobby Webster and Lowry’s camp had been motivated to hammer out an extension for months. Over the weekend, the sides closed on a deal that delivers the Raptors options as they evaluate how they’ll construct a post-championship roster — and delivers Lowry the opportunity to extend his stay with a franchise with which he’s wanted to complete his career.nike nfl cheap jerseys

“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 recognize has such a legacy with the franchise.”6

Lowry has earned $157 million in a career that’s starting its 15th season, including his eighth as the longest-tenured active member of the Raptors.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Despite the loss of NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in free agency, the Raptors return a core that is expected to compete for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto still has flexibility to create a maximum salary-cap slot for 2020-21 free agency. Toronto has two key frontcourt players — Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol — on expiring contracts this season. If Toronto management doesn’t love its team’s chances of making a deep run in the Eastern Conference playoffs, it will have the option of testing Ibaka’s and Gasol’s value on the trade market. The NBA’s Most Improved Player, forward Pascal Siakam, is negotiating a possible rookie extension now. He is expected to be the offensive focal point of the post- Leonard Raptors.

Lowry’s extension tightens the Raptors’ projected salary-cap space in 2020-21, lowering it from $60 million to $26 million. Lowry is still eligible to be traded during the 2019-20 season.

Lowry joined the Raptors via trade in 2012 and has been an integral part of their unprecedented success, with five straight All-Star appearances. In the 2020-21 season, Lowry will now join a 30-30 club of elite point guards who are making over $30 million annually after the age of 30 — including Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, John Wall, Steph Curry, Chris Paul and Mike Conley Jr.

Sixers PG Ben Simmons hits first NBA 3-pointer in preseason game

Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons hit the first 3-pointer of his NBA career in a preseason win over the Guangzhou Long-Lions on Tuesday night.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

The 6-foot-10 point guard pulled up from deep beyond the arc seconds before halftime with the Sixers up big. He was treated to rapturous applause by the home Philly crowd when he hit the shot.5

Simmons was 0-19 from beyond the arc in preseason, regular season and postseason games entering Tuesday. His last 3 came on Nov. 30, 2015 against Charleston while he was at LSU. It was the only 3-pointer he made in his college career.

Simmons has been routinely criticized for not taking open 3-pointers and for failing to develop a reliable jump shot. However, teammates said Simmons has shown increased confidence in the shot this offseason, and videos of his shooting sessions have gone viral in recent months.nike nfl cheap jerseys

Simmons didn’t attempt another 3 in Tuesday’s game and finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in 21 minutes of action.