Mark Cuban's latest fix for the NBA: swap four Western Conference teams with four from the East, balancing out the conferences' win-loss records and allowing stronger teams from the West better chances at making the playoffs.
Of course, such a move, in Cuban's eyes, would benefit his Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs owner told Bryan Gutierrez of MavsOutsider.com that in order to balance out what is currently a much stronger Western Conference and weaker East that he would move the three Texas teams -- his Mavs, plus the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs -- as well as the New Orleans Pelicans to the East, and shift the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons to the West.
Entering Thursday, the Toronto Raptors (13-2) are the only Eastern Conference team with double-digit wins. The Western Conference teams has seven teams with double-digit wins. The East's No. 2 team, the Washington Wizards (9-5), would be no higher than the No. 7 team in the West.
As ProBasketballTalk.com explains, Cuban's idea certainly has a few key issues. What about teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves, two franchises east of Texas who would remain in the Western Conference? How would the league justify keeping them in the West while shifting the Texas teams and the Pelicans to the East?
Also, the Midwestern teams would be difficult to settle. Cuban wants to move the Pistons to the West, but they play in the Eastern time zone. That would wreak havoc on TV start times.
For kicks, here's how the NBA standings entering Thursday would look under Cuban's proposed realignment (without factoring in necessary tiebreaker scenarios):
In this new picture, Cleveland and Brooklyn are bumped out of the playoffs in the East in favor of New Orleans, while Sacramento gets a playoff spot in the West. The three Texas teams—Houston, San Antonio Dallas—get Nos. 2-4 in the East as opposed to Nos. 4-6 in the West, while Chicago and Milwaukee move down to No. 7 and No. 8, in the West, respectively.
Cuban's plan certainly has a while to go before it approaches fruition, but the idea is intriguing.
- Mike Fiammetta