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Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta believes NBA will finish season – ESPN

5:01 PM ET

  • Tim MacMahonESPN Staff Writer

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    • Joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009
    • Covers the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks
    • Appears regularly on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, the chairman and CEO of Landry’s Inc., was questioned about the possibility of the NBA resuming its season by President Donald Trump during a roundtable discussion with restaurant executives and industry leaders Monday at the White House.

The session held in the State Dining Room was intended “to discuss the path forward to safely reopen their business and facilities,” according to the White House, but Trump changed the subject to the NBA with Fertitta.

“I think what they’re doing is waiting to see what happens in certain states and if we’re going to be able to play,” Fertitta said when Trump asked what would happen with basketball, meaning the NBA. “Making sure the virus continues to go in the right direction in the next few weeks. And I think that if things are going in the way that it’s going, I think the NBA, the commissioner Adam Silver, who has done an unbelievable job through this, and the 30 owners will make the decision to try to start the season up again.”

Participants on Tuesday’s NBA Board of Governors call with Silver left the virtual meeting feeling increasingly positive about the league’s momentum toward a resumption of play this season, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski last week.

Trump followed up with a more direct question: “Will you finish the season or not?”

“I think that there’s talk about finishing the season playing X number of games,” Fertitta said. “The players need to play to get paid, and right now they’re taking a 25% pay cut. They own 50% of our revenue, unlike the other sports. And so they want that revenue, even if it’s not the people-in-the-stands revenue, so they can get paid.”

Trump then asked Fertitta if the NBA, which had a little more than a month of the regular season remaining when the season was suspended March 11, would immediately begin the playoffs if the season is resumed.

“I think that we would play some games just to get it going again and create interest and then go right into the playoffs,” Fertitta said. “But I think it’ll be great for America. We’re all missing sports and everybody wants to see these great NBA teams.”

Fertitta opened his comments by calling the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic “devastating” and then referenced Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s preseason tweet that drastically reduced the NBA’s revenues generated from the robust Chinese market.

“I should’ve realized that it was going to be a bad year for China when my general manager tweeted out, you know, ‘Freedom for Hong Kong,'” Fertitta said. “That started my year.”

Trump told Fertitta that Morey “did cause you a little ruckus,” and asked if Morey still worked for the Rockets.

Despite pressure from Chinese officials, Fertitta has never wavered on Morey’s job security. On the night of Morey’s tweet, which was quickly deleted, Fertitta told ESPN that the Rockets did not have political leanings and distanced from Morey’s tweet but said that he was “the best general manager” in the league and would continue in his role.

When Fertitta answered affirmatively about Morey’s employment, Trump quipped: “He must be pretty good.”

Replied Fertitta: “It’s a trick question, but he is.”

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The biggest US mall owner prepares to reopen 49 properties. Here’s how that will work – CNBC

Haywood Mall, Greenville, South Carolina.

Mike Kalasnik | WikipediaCC

The biggest mall owner in the U.S. is preparing to open a number of its properties across the country, as states such as South Carolina and Georgia start to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an internal memo that was obtained by CNBC. 

Simon Property Group is reopening 49 of its malls and outlet centers Friday through Monday, the memo said, including Haywood Mall in Greenville, South Carolina, and Lenox Square in Atlanta. (A full list of all 49 locations and exact reopening dates is below.) 

A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. 

Business hours at the malls and outlet centers will be limited to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, to allow for cleaning overnight, according to the memo. Simon said it will regularly sanitize high-touch areas such as food court tables, escalators, door knobs and electronic directories. And it is encouraging retailers to do the same in their stores. 

Meantime, Simon said it will encourage shoppers to take their temperatures before going to the mall. At the mall, it will make free temperature testing available to customers, using infrared thermometers, it said. 

Free CDC-approved masks and hand sanitizing packets will also be available to the shoppers who ask for them. Simon said it will encourage shoppers to wear masks or some sort of facial coverings while they shop. Simon is mandating its employees wear masks while they are working and take “frequent breaks for handwashing.” 

To ensure its employees and shoppers maintain distance, Simon is taking a number of steps. Those include: Putting tape over every other sink and urinal in restrooms, putting decals on floors to direct traffic flow, limiting food court seating and keeping play areas and drinking fountains closed. 

It said it will limit the number of entrances to each property and make sure that occupancy does not exceed one person per 50 square feet of space, using traffic measuring technology. 

Per the memo, Simon is also encouraging retailers and other tenants to use technology, such as Apple Pay, that allows for contactless transactions. 

It will be left up to the retailers at these properties — such as Macy’s, American Eagle and Victoria’s Secret — to decide whether they wish to reopen for business. Many have furloughed the majority of their store workers, and it could take some time to bring them back. Retailers will also be tasked with stocking fresh inventory and selling through stale merchandise that has been sitting on shelves. 

Some might be more eager than others to turn the lights back on. Nordstrom had warned its financial situation could become distressed because of coronavirus-related store closures. Gap said last week that it did not pay rent in April, adding it might not have enough cash to keep funding its operations. 

But it remains unclear how fast people will want to return to malls. A little over 45% of consumers expect to avoid shopping centers and malls even after the lockdown ends, according to a study by Coresight Research. More people will avoid malls than movie theaters or public transportation, it said. 

Simon on March 18 announced it would be closing all of its properties temporarily, to try to help halt the spread of Covid-19. Others, such as Taubman CentersWashington Prime Group and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, followed suit. 

Simon CEO David Simon also sits on President Donald Trump‘s committee of executives tasked to help reopen the U.S. economy. 

Here is the full list of the 49 locations set to reopen at the beginning of May: 

Read more of CNBC’s coronavirus coverage here. 

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