The NBA’s Eastern Conference is bad, very bad — while its Western Conference is just the opposite. By season’s end, we might be facing a record-shattering competitive discrepancy between the league’s two halves. At time of publication, the Indiana Pacers’ ugly 8-10 start would have them in the East playoffs, while a superior 8-8 start from the off-the-radar Denver Nuggets has them tenth in their conference, outside of the postseason picture.
Understood in terms of point differential, the gap between the conferences is like this: The West has 10 teams who average more points than they give up, while the East has just five. Something, many believe, needs to be done about how much harder life is beyond the Mississippi, and you can count Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban among them.
"It's not like it'd be the first time we've ever realigned," Cuban said to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. "It's happened many times before, so there's precedent and I just think it shakes things up and makes things interesting. It's not like you're reducing competition. You keep Cleveland, Washington and other good teams in the East. It kind of shakes things up in terms of not just interest but also in terms of how people rebuild. It just changes things up and it changes the thought process of a lot of teams. It makes both conferences very competitive, at least for the short term and I think, based on the history of the teams, for the long term as well.
"I did the trial close right here," Cuban said about his plan, which would ship his Mavericks — along with the New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets — to the East while the Pacers, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks would come west. "Then it'll turn into headline porn and then we'll see the response.”
— John Wilmes