Miami Heat  v San Antonio Spurs

After rough shooting night LeBron says he’s “not a big fan” of sleeved jerseys


Adidas and the NBA will tell you that the sleeved jerseys are selling faster than they had projected, which is why you are seeing more of them (including the “Latin Nights” series of games, that are going on this month) . All-Star weekend commissioner Adam Silver said math showed that shooting percentages were almost identical when players wore sleeved jerseys as when they wore traditional ones.

He also said if the players didn’t like them there was something to discuss.

Count LeBron James among those who might want to have a discussion — he doesn’t like them.

The NBA’s biggest star voiced his complaint after a 6-of-18 shooting night as the Spurs beat the Heat handily 111-87 (you can see the video above, via SI’s The Point Forward).

“I’m not making excuses, but I’m not a big fan of the jerseys,” James told reporters. “Not a big fan of them. I have to figure something out the next time I have to wear the short sleeved jerseys…

“Every time I shoot it pulled,” James continued. “It feels like it’s just pulling every time I shoot, right underneath my arm. I already don’t have much room for error on my jumpshot anyway, so it’s definitely not a good thing.”

After watching the game, I would say some of the “blame” for LeBron’s rough night should go to Kawhi Leonard, who did a good job hounding LeBron and trying to make him uncomfortable all night.

There have been players that have gone with a sleeved jersey a couple sizes too big just to create a little room. More than one has privately grumbled about them, although Silver said the reaction when players were surveyed was mixed. LeBron wore them on Christmas against the Lakers and shot on 7-of-14 but went 0-if-4 from three.

The fact is this is about money — if the jerseys are selling the NBA isn’t going to move away from them. And they say they are selling. Fast.

But we may see less of them if there is a vocal backlash from players. LeBron has the platform to speak out in opposition and not get reprimanded by the league. He has. We’ll see where this goes from here.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.