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?

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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.

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