Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was reportedly caught in the middle of China’s beef with the NBA over an executive’s tweet supporting pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters last week.
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Kuzma was set to announce sponsorship deals he had made with a few Chinese companies, but the plans were scrapped over the issues between China and the NBA, The Athletic reported Saturday.
It would have been the perfect time for Kuzma to make the announcements given that the Lakers were set to play two preseason games against the Brooklyn Nets during the week. However, the firestorm involving the NBA, China and the Houston Rockets deteriorated rapidly.
China canceled two NBA Cares events associated with the Lakers and Nets. The government blacked out the games across all television and social media platforms. China and the NBA also canceled media availabilities as tensions rose between the league and the totalitarian Communist government.
It’s unclear which Chinese companies Kuzma had signed with.
He recently signed a five-year shoe deal with Puma and last October became the brand ambassador for the GOAT app – a footwear-reselling app for sneakerheads looking for vintage kicks.
The 24-year-old Michigan native has played two seasons with the Lakers. He was named to the All-Rookie Team in his first year when he averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 77 games.
Last season, he averaged 18.7 and 5.5 rebounds in 70 games. It was also his first year playing alongside LeBron James.
This year, Kuzma has become a huge piece in the new-look Lakers which includes James and Anthony Davis. He is expected to play a larger role within the Lakers rotation moving forward.