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NBA PM: Time for Miami HEAT to Panic?

The HEAT have lost seven of their last 11 games and their players seem genuinely worried. Time to panic in Miami? … Will the NBA ditch sleeved jerseys after this season?

Alex Kennedy



The Miami HEAT have lost seven of their last 11 games and are looking extremely vulnerable late in the season. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been banged up, and a number of HEAT players have voiced their concerns over the timing of the team’s recent slump.

Is it time to panic in Miami or will the HEAT be able to flip the switch in time for the playoffs? I recently chatted with CineSport’s Noah Coslov about the team’s struggles and where Miami goes from here.

Silver Will Meet With Players Regarding Sleeves

Since the NBA decided to introduce short-sleeved jerseys last season and put them center stage for Christmas and All-Star Weekend this year, many fans have made it clear that they don’t like the new look.

In addition to vocal fans, some players have criticized the jerseys including Dirk Nowitzki (who tweeted that they were “awful”) and Robin Lopez (who called for a “mass burning”). LeBron James hasn’t been as blunt as Nowitzki or Lopez, but he has went on the record on more than one occasion to say that he dislikes the sleeves, telling reporters that he’s “not a big fan of the jerseys” and that they hurt his jump shot because the sleeves were “pulling right up underneath my arm.”

Well, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has heard these complaints and will review whether the league should ditch the sleeved jerseys altogether after the season. As Silver considers whether to abandon the new uniforms, he will meet with players, including James.

“Ultimately, if the players don’t like them, we’ll move on to something else,” Silver told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. “I don’t regret doing it for this season. But it’s intended to be something fun for the fans and the players. And if it becomes a serious issue, as to whether players should be wearing sleeves, we’ll likely move onto other things.

“I’ve had conversations with LeBron about the jerseys, and we agreed that we would park the issue until the end of the season. And that once the season is over, he expressed an interest in sitting down with me and Sal LaRocca (the NBA’s president of merchandising) and discussing his point of view. … I take the feedback from all the players very seriously. We’re not going to do anything without taking into account how they feel.”

While there has been a lot of anti-sleeve talk among fans, the league maintains that the jerseys have sold well, which means they probably won’t be going away anytime soon. According to Beck, the NBA reports that the Christmas Day jerseys sold out at the NBA store two weeks before the games and sales were up this year for All-Star jerseys (up 14 percent) and Latin night jerseys (up 37 percent) over last season’s non-sleeved versions.

“I appreciate the fact that the players were open-minded in trying them this year,” Silver said. “We’ve had some fun with the program. Fans have enjoyed wearing them.”

The NBA also thought that players would like the jerseys, since most players wear sleeves when they aren’t playing in games. When players are practicing or training in the offseason, they rarely go sleeveless. The idea was that this would allow players to be more comfortable, but there has been much more negative feedback than the league anticipated.

Shooters seem to be the ones most irritated with the jerseys, even though Silver points out that the statistics have been “virtually exactly the same for games in which we have sleeved jerseys and teams in which the guys are wearing conventional jerseys.” James said the sleeves affected his jumper and it’s true that he has played poorly when wearing the jerseys. Other players have had similar issues such as Beno Udrih, who badly missed a three on Christmas and then immediately pulled the sleeves up over his shoulders.

Silver believes that the issue isn’t that players are wearing sleeves, but that they aren’t choosing a jersey that fits them. The NBA allows players to select the size and fit of their jersey, so Silver believes if a player is feeling restricted by their uniform, it’s on them to make a change.

“The one thing that annoys me about the fit [issue] is that guys do select the size that they wear,” Silver said. “The players could wear a larger size.”

Basketball Insiders received several sizes of the sleeved jerseys to test over the offseason, and it’s true that the sleeves don’t limit one’s movement as long as they’re wearing the right size.

Silver has made it clear that NBA jerseys will likely features sponsors’ logos in the near future, which led some to wonder if the sleeves were added just to create more room for advertisements on the jerseys. However, Silver insists that this isn’t the case and that there is plenty of room on the current jerseys for a sponsor logo, should the NBA choose to go down that route.

“That was not a consideration,” Silver said. “It was based entirely on trying something new and making something available to our fans that they would feel more comfortable wearing.”

It remains to be seen if the NBA will continue to push sleeved jerseys in the future. We’ll likely know more this offseason, once Silver has a chance to sit down with players and review all of the information.

Johnson, Durant Named Players of the Week

The Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Johnson and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, March 17, through Sunday, March 23.

Johnson led the Nets to a 4-0 week, which included wins over the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks. He averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Johnson connected on 14-of-24 (.583) three-point field goals on the week, including a 6-of-8 performance from distance en route to 27 points on March 21, during a 114-98 win over the Boston Celtics.

Durant led the Thunder to a 3-0 week, tallying 35 points or more in all three contests. He averaged a league-best 40.3 ppg and added 11.7 rebounds (fourth in the conference) and 6.0 assists (tied-10th in the conference). Durant closed the week with a 51-point, 12-rebound, seven-assist effort on March 21, as the Thunder topped the Toronto Raptors 119-118 in double overtime.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, Houston’s James Harden, Memphis’ Zach Randolph, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, New York’s Carmelo Anthony, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, San Antonio’s Tiago Splitter and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.


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NBA Daily: Jonathan Isaac Proving to be Key Part of Orlando’s Future

Basketball Insiders spoke with Jonathan Isaac about his rookie season, injuries, areas to improve on, his faith and more.

James Blancarte



On January 13, the Orlando Magic were eliminated from playoff contention. This date served as a formality as the team has known for quite some time that any postseason hopes had long since sailed. The Magic started the year off on a winning note and held an 8-4 record in early November. However, the team lost their next nine games and never really recovered.

Many factors play a role in a young but talented team like the Magic having another season end like this. Injuries to franchise cornerstone Aaron Gordon as well as forward Evan Fournier and forward Jonathan Isaac magnified the team’s issues.

Isaac, a rookie selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, started the season off reasonably well. On November 10, in 21 minutes of action, he registered an 11-point, six-rebound, one-assist, one-steal, two-block all-around effort against the Phoenix Suns to help the Magic get to that 8-4 record. Isaac then suffered an ankle injury midway through his next game and wouldn’t play again until December 17, by which time the team was already 11-20 with athe season quickly going sideways. From November until March, Isaac would only play in three games until finally returning to consistent action in the month of March with the season all but decided.

Basketball Insiders spoke to Isaac recently to discuss how he has pushed through this season, staying healthy, his impressive skill set and more.

“I’ve had a lot of time off from being injured so, I think my body is holding up fine along with how much I’ve played. I haven’t played a full season,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders “I feel good. I feel good.”

Isaac talked about what part of his game he feels strongly about and has improved on.

“I think defensively,” Isaac said. “I didn’t expect myself to make strides defensively like I have. I’ve been able to just be able to just do different things and help this team defensively and I didn’t expect that coming in so, that would be the one thing.”

Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise of Isaac’s defense and also focused on the rookie’s great defensive potential.

“His defense is out of this world. I mean it’s really something else,” Vogel said. “Just watch him play and everybody’s getting a taste of it right now. They haven’t seen him a whole lot but he’s an elite defender right now at 20-years old and the sky’s the limit for what he can be on that end of the floor.

While Isaac hasn’t logged a huge number of minutes on the floor this season, he has impressed in his limited action. As Coach Vogel stated, anyone who has taken the time to watch Isaac play this season has noticed his ability to guard other big men and his overall defensive impact.

“I think I’ve been able to do a good job on most of the people that I’ve had to guard,” Isaac said.

Missing Isaac’s defense impact and overall contributions partially explains why the Magic cooled off after their hot start. However, with the playoffs no longer an option, younger players like Isaac now have the opportunity to play with less attention and pressure. While it can be argued that the Magic aren’t really playing for anything, the truth is these late-season games can be an opportunity to develop these younger players and determine what to work on during the offseason.

There is more to Isaac than just basketball, however. Isaac discussed other parts of his life that are important to him, including religion and his faith.

“[M]y faith in Jesus is something that I put a lot of emphasis on,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a part of me.”

Isaac did not hesitate to credit his faith when asked if it helped him push through his injuries.

“I would say definitely,” Isaac said. “Especially with getting injured so early in the season and being out for 40 games. That’s a lot on somebody’s mental capacity and then just staying positive, staying joyful in times where joy doesn’t seem like it’s the right emotion to have. And I definitely [attribute] that to my faith.”

Looking forward, both Vogel and Isaac discussed the future and what the young big man can improve on.

“Offensively, he’s grown in confidence, he’s gained so he’s going to give us a big lift and our future’s bright with him,” Vogel stated.

Isaac gave a hint of his offseason training plans when asked what he looks forward to working on.

“I would say consistency with my jump shot. Really working on my three-ball and I would say ball-handling,” Isaac stated.

When asked if there was anything more he wanted to add, Isaac simply smiled and said, “Oh no, I think I got to get to church right now,” as the team prepared to play later that evening.

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Tyronn Lue’s Health Concerns Latest Bump In The Road For Cavaliers

Spencer Davies outlines Tyronn Lue’s decision to take a leave of absence to deal with health issues and covers the reaction around the NBA.

Spencer Davies



The win-loss record is not where they want it to be.

The performances have not been up to par with what they expect.

With that said, one thing is for certain: There is no other team that will have been more battle tested going into the playoffs than the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Day after day and week after week, there’s always something going on with the team. Between in-house arguments, on-court miscommunication, roster turnover, and more, it has been one giant roller coaster of a season.

Monday morning, another twist was added to the ride. In a statement released by the Cavaliers organization, Tyronn Lue and general manager Koby Altman announced that the head coach would be taking a leave of absence to address his health:

“After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.

“I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is. While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team.

“I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards. I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization’s support throughout.”

There were multiple instances where Lue either missed part of a half or an entire game this season. The symptoms are definitely not to be taken lightly. According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lue attempted to return to the bench Saturday night in Chicago but the team didn’t allow him to. Evidently, Lue was “coughing up blood” some nights.

Seeing it first hand after postgame press conferences, Lue was visibly exhausted and stress could likely be playing a part. He’s been fighting through the tough times the team has been going through and avoided stepping away twice this season.

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford had his own battle with health problems earlier this season and temporarily left the team for those reasons. He has attempted to reach out to Lue, a friend and former player of his.

Other head coaches around the league—Joe Prunty, Steve Kerr, and Luke Walton—have all gone to bat for Lue when discussing the rigors of an NBA schedule and the toll it takes.

Altman supports the decision for Lue to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

“We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues,” he said.

LeBron James is glad that Lue is going to take some time to get better.

“Obviously, health is the most important with everything in life,” James said Monday after shootaround. “Not surprised by it at all. I knew he was struggling, but he was never not himself. He was just dealing with it the best way he could, but he was never not himself when he was around.

“It doesn’t matter what’s going on here. We play a great sport, our coaches get to coach a great sport, and you guys get to cover a great sports. But health is most important right now and that’s what our coach is doing right now and we’re all in favor for it.”

The latest piece of news is a blow to the already injury-ridden Cleveland group. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over duties until Lue returns.

The good news for the Cavaliers is that Kevin Love can potentially return to the mix as soon as Monday night against Milwaukee.

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NBA Daily: Calderón’s Late NBA Start

Jose Calderón might be the only player in the league who didn’t grow up dreaming of playing in the NBA.

Joel Brigham



There are a lot of different ways to get to the NBA, but most of them involve lifelong scouting and an unceasing dream to play in the world’s premier basketball league.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard José Calderón didn’t really have either of those things.

“I never even thought of the NBA when I was a kid,” Calderón told Basketball Insiders. “I grew up in a small town in Spain, and I played basketball because my dad played and I loved it. I was having fun, always playing with the older guys because I was good at that age, but I never really even thought about playing any sort of professional basketball.”

Having grown up in Villanueva de la Serena, Spain, Calderón watched his father play for Doncel La Serena, which was his hometown team as a child. He was something of a prodigy, having attended practices and games with his father from a young age, and as burgeoning teenager he left home to play professionally for the lower-level Vitoria-Gasteiz team.

“They wanted to sign me at 13 years old, and we didn’t even know that they could sign people that young,” Calderón remembers. “So I did that, and I tried to get better. I tried to advance into the older clubs, but I never really did think about the NBA at all, honestly.”

That changed as he got older, though, especially after Spain finished 5th in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and Calderón started to get some stateside recognition.

“After that summer, [my agent and I] got a call from Milwaukee asking about my situation, and asked would I think about coming to play over here. It was sort of a let’s-see-what-happens sort of situation, but I couldn’t at that time because I was under contract. That was the first time I was really approached.”

As his teammates from the Spanish National Team made their way to the NBA, Calderón grew increasingly intrigued.

“Pau Gasol obviously opened a lot of doors for us,” he said. “Raul Lopez came, too. I was just playing basketball, though. I didn’t know anything about scouts. Later, when we started to get the calls from Toronto, I started to realize how possible it really was. That’s when I thought, ‘Hey, why not?’”

Despite being eligible for a few drafts in a row, Calderón never did get drafted, which was fine by him. Growing up the way he did, Calderón never had any dreams of his hearing his name called by Commissioner Stern, so playing his way through most of his deal with TAU Vitoria was no big deal for him. He could take or leave the NBA.

“Not getting drafted was the perfect situation for me,” he said. “In my satiation, coming from Europe, I was already playing professionally for a good team and making some good money. That was perfect for me at the time, and I was happy to be a free agent at 23, choosing where I was going to sign instead of going in the second round and having to play for one team.”

He signed with the Raptors in 2005 since they were the most aggressive in recruiting him to the NBA. As a 23-year-old rookie, he wasn’t overwhelmed physically the way a lot of rookies are, but he did find his new league challenging in other ways.

“The hardest part was just having to start over,” he said. “You start over from zero. It doesn’t matter if the other players know you or don’t, you have to prove yourself all over again. You could be the MVP of Europe, but to get respect in the NBA you have to gain it on the court.”

The talent differential was immediately noticeable, as well.

“There are so many guys out there that are better than you. It’s not just like a guy or two; there are six, seven guys on the floor any given time that are better than you.”

That meant making some changes in the way that Calderón played. He was asked to do a lot more offensively for his EuroLeague team. Playing with so many talented scorers completely changed his approach.

“I went from taking 20 shots a game to doing something else, and as a point guard in the NBA I had to approach that point guard role even more, to make those guys respect my game, to make them want to play with me. I had to be able to pass the ball, to do something different from all the other players, so I became a fast-first point guard to make sure we always played as a team. That’s how I get to where I am as a professional.”

Now 36 years old, Calderón is one of the league’s oldest players, making it easy for him to look back at where he came from to transform into the player he is today.

“I’ve grown so much, but I was lucky to be given the opportunity,” he said. “When you arrive from Europe, whether you’re good or bad, it doesn’t always matter if you don’t have the opportunity. Toronto gave me the opportunity to play 20 minutes a night, and that’s a lot. I made a lot of mistakes, but they let me play through those mistakes. All those little things added up for me, and I learned a lot.”

He owns two silver medals and a bronze in the three Olympics he’s participated in over the course of his career, as well as gold medals in FIBA World Cup and EuroBasket, but he’s never won an NBA championship. Joining up with LeBron James improves those odds, but that’s the thing that would really put an exclamation point on an excellent career.

Calderón could have stayed in Spain and been fine. He jokes that while the NBA has been very good to him, he and his family could have stayed in Europe and he could have made good money playing basketball there. He’s been happy with his career, though, however unorthodox his journey here, and he hopes his most prestigious accolades are yet to come.

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