CLOSE

SportsPulse: Former NBPA executive director Charles Grantham provides his expertise and analyzes the situation between the NBA and China, which has dominated the headlines in recent days.
USA TODAY

James Harden is not interested in continuing to invade the NBA's ongoing dispute with China.

For the first time since his return from a preseason trip to Japan in Houston, the Rockets star Sunday said he no longer intends to address the controversy. During a scrum with reporters, Harden tried to turn the conversation back to basketball and the coming season.

"I'll stay out of this," Harden said. "I focus on what we have and try to get better, we are one and a half weeks away from the regular season."

Harden called the battles of the missiles in the preseason last year an important motivator. Houston stumbled over a start between 11 and 14 last season, and Harden believes that eliminating distractions will help the missiles avoid a similar fate this year.

"I remember we did not have a good start last year out of this hole," Harden said. "So this year we try to avoid this and try to get a better start and it starts now."

The NBA's annual voyage to China was still controversial before it began last week, when Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted and deleted a support message for protesters in Hong Kong. Morey's tweet sparked outrage in China and threatened to derail the League's longtime and lucrative relationship with the country.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets played as planned two show games, but they lacked the usual fanfare of the NBA games in China. Promotional events have been canceled, as have scheduled press conferences with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, coaches and players. The state television channel CCTV has not broadcast a game.

MORE ON CHINA

Tencent, the NBA media partner in China, said it would re-evaluate its coverage of the league and the Chinese shoe company Anta Sports announced the contract extension negotiations with NBA players suspend.

Morey has been holding back since the first tweet. His only public statements since then came in two follow-up tweets in which he did not apologize, but said his tweets "by no means represent the Rockets or the NBA".

Houston coach Mike D & # 39; Antoni and other Rockets players seemed eager to turn the argument over with Harden.

"It's a distraction," said D & # 39; Antoni. We still have good work, everything is fine, it happens, it is unfortunate that it happened, but as I said, our work will be done. "

Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @ meppers_ .

CLOSE

SportsPulse: The NBA offseason was just wild. As the training camps begin, Trysta Krick digests everything and explains the crazy moves made with a map. Take notes and get ready.
USA TODAY