Donald Trump cuts off Tilman Fertitta pledge for assistance to ask about Daryl Morey
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta met with restaurant-industry executives on Monday, asking President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “add a category” to the Paycheck Protection Program to account for “larger private restaurateurs” and to “do something with lease terminations.”
Those pledges were taken into consideration, but not before Trump continually interrupted Fertitta’s request to help save his restaurant empire with copious questions about the NBA, his superstar players James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and of course, Daryl Morey.
“Russell and James both make $40 million a year and they were still getting paid, so a lot of my employees really wanted that PPP money,” Fertitta said in the meeting, hoping to get down to brass tacks.
Trump wouldn’t take long to scratch his curiosity regarding Morey, who sparked controversy early on after expressing his support for Hong Kong while the NBA was holding preseason games in China. The Chinese government and the NBA’s Chinese partners quickly separated from the NBA, resulting in an estimated $400-million losses for the league.
The Rockets owner did his best to keep mum, but ultimately relented:
“I should have realized it was going to be a bad year for China when my general manager tweeted out ‘Freedom for Hong Kong.’ That started my year with China,” Fertitta joked.
Donald Trump was quick to bring up the “ruckus” and asked if Morey was still employed by the franchise. Once Fertitta confirmed he was, Trump said Morey “must be pretty good” to still have his job, despite having that costly opinion, which will reflect in the next collective bargaining agreement.
“It’s a trick question,” Fertitta replied. “But he is.”
Morey has yet to deliver the Rockets a championship, but he has kept Fertitta’s team under the luxury tax for the past two seasons and received a contract extension in 2019 because of it.