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New NBA commish dishes on sleeved jerseys, age limits, expansion and more

New Orleans • If given the choice, Damian Lillard would prefer a sleeveless jersey to the one he'll wear in tonight's All-Star Game.

But Lillard is a professional athlete in the prime of his life.

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He's not a 51-year-old dude.

New NBA commissioner Adam Silver is.

"The idea behind them was that presuming there was a large segment of our fan base, especially older males like myself, who weren't going to be comfortable wearing tank‑top jerseys but would feel comfortable wearing a sleeved jersey to work out or play basketball in or whatever else, I think from that standpoint it's been successful," Silver said this weekend, defending the sleeved jerseys. "People are buying them and people like them."

Players have expressed both support and dislike for the look.

"If players believe it has any impact whatsoever on the competition, even if it's just a perception, we need to deal with it," Silver said. "We know that shooting percentages are virtually exactly the same for games in which we have sleeved jerseys and teams in which the guys are wearing conventional jerseys."

Silver also said he believes the NBA will eventually place sponsors' logos on jerseys, following the route soccer clubs took long ago, but added "we're not close at the moment."

In his first press confernce as commissioner, Silver was personable and touched on a handful of topics without providing much in the way of specifics.

Here are a few other highlights from Silver's weekend press conference:

• On changes to the lottery system: "The very purpose of the lottery is to prevent there from being an incentive to lose games. And so to the extent that incentives aren't entirely aligned, we'll look at the lottery again. We have adjusted it several times over the years, and we'll adjust it again if necessary. But we'll see. We have a competition committee, that's one of their mandates, to continue looking at that. But I'm not overly concerned right now."

• On possible tweaks to instant replay: "I don't know if there's ways to expand replay and shorten the game at the same time. One of the things we're looking at is a command center similar to what the NHL does right now, where we can centralize the review of replay. In part to ensure a certain consistency, also to save time."

• On raising the age limit for players: "So the 20‑year‑old minimum age limit was something we had on the table in the last round of collective bargaining. And when we compromised on a deal, well into what should have been our season, we agreed to park certain issues and return to them. And the age limit was one of them. It is my belief that if players have an opportunity to mature as players and as people, for a longer amount of time, before they come into the league, it will lead to a better league."

• On possible expansion: "I'm committed to studying it. That is international expansion. It's not on the top of my list right now. And I tell you that goes for domestic expansion as well. Largely because I want to ensure that we have a healthy 30‑team league. As powerful as the gains were that we made in the last collective bargaining agreement, we still don't have a team that has 30 teams that are financially viable."

— Aaron Falk

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