Realigning the NBA

With a burst from nowhere, Virginia Beach-Norfolk got the NBA chattering over what-ifs and the like. Out of leftfield came this story. Now, regardless of whether the Tidewater is deserving of an NBA franchise, a relocated Kings dovetails nicely with NBA realignment and my own plan for success.

One of the more interesting things to come out of the NHL recently was the radical realignment plan. NBA/NHL/MLB have always suffered from too few major league cities in the mountain and pacific time zones. This geo-disparity basically required numerous central time zone teams to be playing too many pacific coast games that are not kind to the viewership back home. I thought the NHL plan did a fine job of recognizing and correcting this issue. Now, where the NHL plan faltered imo, was in regard to the playoff structure. That can be remedied quite easily for the NBA and I will do so a bit further down the digital page. First, though, realignment.

Four "conferences" will form the backbone of the plan ala the NHL plan. Time zone grouping is ideal. Teams will play every team outside of their conference home and away while the rest of the games will be played in-conference. For argument sake, I assume the Maloofs are avid history buffs and need to be closer to Colonial Williamsburg.

Conference 1:

Lakers, Clippers, Denver, Utah, Phoenix, G-State, Portland

Conference 2:

NO, Memphis, SA, Houston, Dallas, OKC, Minnesota

Conference 3:

Toronto, Knicks, Nets, Boston, Philly, Va Beach, Charlotte, Washington,

Conference 4:

Milwaukee, Chicago, Indy, Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta, Orlando, Miami

Frankly, Conference 3 and 4 can be split up any myriad of ways.

This type of alignment lends itself to more flexibility re: future movement and/or expansion. No team, ala the Wolves, would have to play the majority of their road games 2 time zones away. I think this is a good thing. If the Kings stay in CA, then they just go to Conf 1 and Conf 3 is the 7 team conference. Say Seattle gets a team back from Milwaukee or ATL or MEM or NO...this time-zone, flexible plan works well as one of the Rocky Mountain teams goes to Conf 2- one time zone away. And so on and so on.....

Admittedly, there is a slight loss in "traditional conference matchups" under my plan. A team like the Lakers would only come to Sota once a year. Currently scheduled, this is sometimes twice a year. I don't think that this is a huge negative to my plan.


This is actually the most "radical" part of my plan. Originally, the NHL plan faltered because it was focused on a conference-centered playoff format, i.e. the top 4 teams in each conference would qualify and play each in the first two rounds. This was akin to the league's old Norris and Adams days. While this was fine when 16 of 19 teams (or whatever) made the post-season, I concur that it wasn't feasible in a larger league. 5th and even 6th-placed teams in other conferences could be left with a legitimate gripe come season's end when they have a better record than an opposite 4th place team.

To remedy this, I propose seeding the NBA playoffs 1-16. Allow the "conference" champs to occupy slots 1-4 if need be.

The only real negative I can see is the "history" argument. Western Conference vs. Eastern Conference and whatnot. Does this really matter all that much anymore? The NBA currently hands out a trophy for Conference champs but is that a big deal? Does it need to continue? I know the NFL does likewise but their conferences are a result of an historic merger- honoring the old AFL through a conference trophy is agreeable in that context.

I suppose, if Stern (or Adam Silver) wants to continue to "preserve" the league history, just split the bracket into Eastern and Western halves. That way two relatively meaningless trophies can continue to be awarded.

What say my Canis Hoopus brethren?

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