There are plenty of cracks in the NBA’s economic model, and they will likely get deeper in the years to come. As Mark Cuban pointed out when talking about why the conference system should be changed, there’s less incentive for teams in the East to get better because the bar for making the playoffs and winning a series or two is much lower. Stern always said the balance of power between the conferences was cyclical, but the last two generations of players have not been able to change the underlying dynamic, and there’s no guarantee the next one does either. As long as the owners in the East keep making money off their teams, they have no reason to change the way they are run.
Silver, though, did leave the door open for the possibility of one day rebalancing the two conferences or having a 16-seed tournament. "Ultimately [two years ago] we concluded that given all the focus on sports science, health of our players and impact of travel, it didn't make sense, at least at this time, to move to a rebalanced schedule because we played an imbalanced schedule," Silver said at the board of governors news conference Wednesday.
There are some who believe the NBA should eliminate conference affiliation in the postseason and seed playoff teams based on record. Silver believes there are challenges to that concept. “I know that from a fan standpoint, there is real appeal to this notion of seed your teams 1 through 16 going into the playoffs and possibly two Western Conference teams could meet in the Finals or two Eastern Conference teams, and where we ended up was that — again, it relates directly to the resting issue and injury data, is that we would be dramatically increasing travel because if we’re going to seed 1 through 16 we would need to have more of a balanced schedule throughout the year,” Silver said. “That would result in more travel. You could have a Boston-Golden State first-round matchup in the playoffs. It’s something we continue to look at.
The NBA made it official: division winners will no longer be guaranteed a top-four seed in the playoffs. In fact, they won't be guaranteed playoff spots at all, opening the very real possibility of the Atlantic Division winner missing the postseason. (They should hang a banner anyway). The next obvious move is to eliminate divisions entirely, which could happen as soon as next year.
The next step is to remove conference and/or seed the playoffs 1-16. That's a tougher nut to crack because it requires a three-fourths majority and those East teams aren't about to vote away their cakewalk paths to postseason play, but we can now have a real conversation about it. When brainstorming ideas, the league would be smart to consider Tom's five regions approach.
Bobby Marks: Good first step by NBA, next line of business is to do away with divisions, would not be surprised if that happens for 16-17. Can't get rid of divisions yet because of how the schedule works, ex: East 16 games vs Div., 24 for Central/Southeast, unbalance schedule. Don't ever seeing conferences going away until the earliest 2022, Huge consequences on teams that traded away future picks.
January 26, 2021 | 7:37 pm EST Update
Eric Woodyard: 1 year after Kobe Bryant’s death, Cavs guard Collin Sexton tells ESPN that he’ll continue to “live by the Mamba” by carrying that Kobe mentality with him on the court. Sexton, aka “Young Bull,” is averaging a career-best 24.8 points per game in his third season. pic.twitter.com/FNefooiAEr