Uni Watch: New superstar, same look

As you may have heard, a ton of uniform-related news for the upcoming NBA season just dropped. But one team was conspicuously absent from the flurry of uniform bulletins: the Cavaliers.

Many fans are surprised and disappointed by that. When LeBron James announced that he was returning to the Cavs, Uni Watch headquarters was flooded with emails from fans and readers who said things like, "Now that LeBron's back in Cleveland, the Cavs are going to have new uniforms, right? New era, new look!"

It's understandable that fans would associate LeBron's comings and goings with uniform overhauls. After all, the Cavs' last uni redesign took place in 2010 -- the year LeBron left Cleveland and joined the Heat. That redesign left the Cavs with a much plainer look, almost like the team was saying, "OK, we just lost our best player, so we're going to tone down our visuals."

But that was just a coincidence. Those 2010 uniforms had already been in the works before LeBron took his talents to South Beach. If he had stayed in Cleveland, he would have been wearing those plainer unis in 2010.

It's fun to think that teams can tailor their uniform programs on the fly in response to roster moves and other breaking developments, but the uni-verse doesn't work that way. Although specific cases can vary, it generally takes about 18 to 24 months for a team in one of the "Big Four" pro leagues to get a new uniform program up and running. There are lots of reasons for this, including the time needed to focus-test new designs and the need to get new logos trademarked, but the biggest speed bump is inventory management on the retail side.

"It's about allowing old inventory to bleed out so that nobody's stuck with a pile of obsolete merchandise," said Todd Radom, a designer who's created uniforms and logos for the NBA, NFL and MLB. "If you have licensees who've paid you a lot of money -- not just jerseys, but also licensees who make things like pennants and items like that -- those people are your business partners. And do you really want to stick your business partners with a bunch of outdated, unsalable inventory? It builds up bad will."

That's why the Cavs can't give themselves a makeover for this fall. It's conceivable that they might be able to fast-track a uniform redesign in time for the 2015-16 season, but even that would take some doing.

But just because the Cavaliers can't immediately give themselves a new look, that doesn't mean the rest of us can't create one for them. And that leads us to our latest Uni Watch design challenge: Redesign the Cavs!

We've done this before, for NBA teams and teams in other sports, and it's always a lot of fun. Here are the ground rules:

• Your entry must include a primary logo, a home uniform and a road uniform. (If you like, you can also include secondary logos, up to two alternate uniforms and a Spanish-language uniform, but those aren't required.)

• In keeping with the current state of NBA uniform design, your jersey designs can include sleeves -- or not. Up to you.

• Your designs can be created in any digital or analog medium (Illustrator, Photoshop, crayon, whatever) and can be submitted in any standard digital format (JPG, PDF, tiff, etc.).

• Your file names should include your full name (example: Paul Lukas.jpg). If you're submitting multiple files, please either number them (Paul Lukas1.jpg, Paul Lukas2.jpg, etc.) or use some other designation (Paul Lukas-home.jpg, Paul Lukas-road.jpg, etc.). You can also include your name or watermark on the image itself if you want, but that isn't required.

• Email your entry here. If you have more than one concept, feel free to enter as many times as you like.

• Deadline: Friday, July 25, 7 p.m. ET.

The winning entries will be showcased in a future Uni Watch column. Get crackin'!

Paul Lukas misses the Cavs' original LeBron-era uniforms, which were among the NBA's best. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.