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NBA Expansion, Realignment, and Four point line: If AllThatAmar were NBA Commishioner for a day


Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a super chill, passive, non-micromanager. No, wait, it's pretty much the opposite. I am easy going, however, I've inherited a number of functional organizational traits from my mother (a mix of perfectionism and OCD -- which I hide very well with how many spelling errors I have in my posts). When I think about having a lot of power (with which to do good deeds with) I end up thinking about one of the most powerful men I have had the chance to meet: David Stern. I got a brief chance to meet Stern at the 2013 NBA Draft. Of course, it's not like I had a long, candid conversation with him (like Mychal and I had with the president of the ref's association at the Draft combine, Mike Bantom's boss) -- but after his last pick (which happened right before I finally finished the Trey Burke interview) we ended up crossing paths under the Barclays center. He ended up mingling with some of the crowd for a bit on the left hand side, where I was coming from (because I got lost).

That brief brush with real ultimate power got me thinking . . .

What would I do if I were commissioner of the NBA for a day?

Well, the OBVIOUS answer is the same answer if you found a genie's bottle -- ask for more wishes. So the first thing I would want is to grant myself the power to be commissioner for a year. (Or for life -- it's a pretty nice job to have) After that, it's game on. In reality, I don't think I could make the NBA changes I wanted in just a day, so I picked the "more wishes" option first. If I could get everything done in a day I would be fine with just a day. I'm not greedy.

My two main campaigns would be because, well, I'm kinda into organization / OCD. For example, it makes absolutely no sense for the New Orleans NBA franchise to be in the Western Conference. This is precisely the kind of buffoonery I would try to resolve. Another problem I have is that the average NBA player has grown in athletic ability, size, length, and speed -- but the court has remained the same. They haven't changed the lines significantly since the days of Wilt Camberlain, and haven't added any new lines since the 1979-80 season when they added the three point line. Purists are awesome, but the game has changed, and changes need to be dealt with -- and not ignored.


Proposal #1: Expansion and Realignment

People love the NBA, especially basketball crazy places that don't have teams. Look at how crazy Oklahoma City went when they were allowed to help host NBA home games due to Hurricane Katrina causing massive destruction in New Orleans. Some former NBA homes don't even have a team anymore. The NBA can't expand unless there is an even number of added teams, so that makes it hard for a single new franchise to be formed. Making it even harder, is that they have to be divided evenly in the East and West. The only way the NBA is ever going to really get serious and expand is if the NBA opens up some of their coffers to help with some of the cost. The NBA is a many-billion dollar for profit group. In order to expand the brand they should follow through with my plan, as Commish. Well, as Commish they may not have a choice.

Anyway, this plan requires them to help wanna-be owners buy new franchises.

I handled realignment a while back (March 5, 2011) and a number of things have changed since then. First of all, the world went into a super-duper recession. But whatever. I'm Commish for a day, and that day is in the future. Not tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow things are much better economically in the US. Another thing is that while I was into realignment, it doesn't accurately reflect the changing demographics of the world and the globalization of the game.

The current NBA is broken up into 30 teams, 15 in each conference, and 5 in each division. Like the major population and market sizes in the US, many of the teams are inherently in the East. You play 82 games in a season, and it works out quite nicely with two games each (home and away) with each team in the other conference, and the majority of your games played against your conference. The problems here are that the divisions and conferences don't adhere to geography. I know how silly this is as I'm a Detroit Redwings fan and hated them being in the Western Conference. I know it was about money, but I'm glad using our brains prevailed.

We need to use our brains in the NBA.

And we need to use our brains to make a lot of money -- even if the NBA has to dip into not just their operations budget but also some of their savings as well. Why? Because cha-ching. That's why.

  • NBA is expanding from 30 teams to 48 teams
  • NBA Conferences are up from 15 teams to 24 teams
  • NBA is expanding the size of divisions from 5 teams to 6 teams
  • Duh, four in the West, and four in the East
  • Each division will have a market size factor that relates to their metro populations and TV deals, etc. This division market size factor will then be applied to the salary cap (*maybe, not sold on this idea)
  • The number of teams has increased, but the NBA schedule has not -- you will still play a 82 game season
  • The NBA Season will be Non-Conference Games + Conference Games + Division Games + Rival Games = 82
  • Each team will play every team in the other conference once (24 teams x 1 = 24 games), so you no longer get a home and home each year. Each year this will switch from a home game vs. Team X to a roag game vs. Team X. They have powerful computers to keep track of this guys.
  • Each team will play every team in their own conference twice (23 teams x 2 = 46 games). You get a home and home with every team in your conference.
  • Each team will on top of that play every team in their division one more time (5 teams x 1 = 5 games). It will alternate every season so a team in your division that you play 2 games at home against in this season will be scheduled next season for twice on the road against. Big super computers can figure this out. So you play 3 games against your division opponents, 2 games against every other team in your conference, and 1 game against the opposing conference.
  • Each team will then play 7 "Rivalry" games. These are open and selected based upon semi-history and geography. The Utah Jazz, for example, on top of their 24 East Games, 46 West Games, and 5 Division Games (75 of their total 82 games), will play an additional one game each against the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Supersonics (they comin' back), San Antonio Spurs, and Chicago Bulls. You notice that one of those teams isn't even in the same conference, and (you will notice) that those Western conference teams are not all in the same division as the Jazz. This is a good thing. We get one extra Lakers / Celtics game a year. We get to retain rivalries despite a league with 18 more teams in it. Don't care for the Jazz, well the Knicks would get an extra game against the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers, and Indiana Pacers. Nice. Of course, not every team will have the same number of rivals (almost every team in the West calls the Lakers a rival), so you will not get your first pick of rival every year (again, super computers can figure this out), so this allows for NEW rivalries to happen.
  • Rivalry games are always on National TV. Period. They get special uniforms for these games too. Legends from each team are on hand, and ON the bench of their teams during the game and mic'd up. They can be in the huddles too during time outs if they want / are not currently being interviewed by the TV crew. So in the case of a Kings/ Sonics rivalry game Chris Webber and Gary Payton will be mic'd up. They can tweet / instagram / vine / whatever as much as they want.
  • So 24 (non-conf) + 46 (conf) + 5 (division) + 7 rivalry = the 82 game schedule
  • The NBA regular season is longer, so there is more time for rest, travel, and fewer guys get otherwise avoidable injuries.
  • There are 2-3 fewer pre-season games.
  • The season starts in the third week of October (currently starts on the last three days of October), and continues on till the last week of April. Playoffs START in May. Fewer injuries means better competition, and fewer teams going into playoffs hurt. The product will be better. Fewer teams will be forced into tanking as well.
  • Seriously, unavoidable injuries due to strain loses the league millions a year.
  • The playoffs will remain unchanged, Top 8 of each conference. This means there will be 32 teams not making the playoffs.
  • Guess what? 32 team single elimination tournament, where each game is 24 minutes long. Draft rank is somehow tied into this tournament. (Haven't figured this out quite yet, but better than just tanking) The better you do in the tournament the better chance you have of improving your draft lotto probabilities? It's still based upon poor record, but the teams that are "just one piece away" and go for it and get a Top 10 player or something. I don't know. Smarter people than I can figure this out.
  • Each team can assign up to 3 players (regardless of age or experience) as free transfers to their affiliate NBA-DL team. They have unlimited movement between the teams/leagues. NBA Rosters are now at a maximum of 15 + 3 stashes. You don't have to go for a full 15 + 3 though. Minimums will be at 12 + 1.

Okay, so this all deals with the league . . . but not the actual expansion / realignment. Spill the beans AllThatNBACommish . . .

  • Four divisions in each Conference
  • Six teams in each division
  • Currently playing with the names, maybe naming them off of a legendary player from each zone -- like Mikan Conference will hold over the teams in Minny, Milwaukee, Chicago, etc. I don't know. For ease right now they are West 1, 2, 3, 4, and East 1, 2, 3, 4. Clearly we know some of them are "Atlantic" or "Pacific" though.

Eastern Conference:

Division 1: "Atlantic"


East 1
# Team Metro Pop (M) NBA Team # of Sports Teams 2013
1 New York Knicks 23.4 Yes 11
2 Brooklyn Nets 23.4 Yes 11
3 New Jersey Team 23.4 New 11
4 Washington Wizards 9.3 Yes 7
5 Boston Celtics 7.9 Yes 5
6 Philadelphia 76ers 7.1 Yes 5
Average 15.8 5 / 6 8.3

This is essentially the Atlantic Division with a little remix. We've added Washington D.C.'s team here. We've also added a new expansion franchise in New Jersey. That means there's 3 NBA teams in a small area -- but to be fair, this is really 6 NBA teams in a small area. But this is the most populated area on the North American continent. If you don't like giving Jersey a team then either a) we move Toronto back in, b) add a team in Baltimore, or c) add a team in Pittsburgh. Whatever. These teams play each other a lot and lots of rival games too. They also have the largest metro score and have a crazy number of sports teams. But there are a lot of people to go around and be fanatics. I can see it that if you are really a fan of a team that has expensive home court tickets you could end up just watching "your" team play as the road team a lot with the new expansion franchise.


Division 2: "Central"


East 2
# Team Metro Pop (M) NBA Team # of Sports Teams 2013
1 Chicago Bulls 9.9 Yes 6
2 Toronto Raptors 6.8 Yes 5
3 Detroit Pistons 5.6 Yes 4
4 Cleveland Cavaliers 3.5 Yes 3
5 Indiana Pacers 2.3 Yes 2
6 Milwaukee Bucks 2.0 Yes 2
Average 5.0 6 / 6 3.7

I really wanted Minnesota to be here because they are adjacent to Milwaukee -- but it wasn't to be. If we move Toronto into the East 1 division (and they may want to be there because of their ego), then this group either gets an expansion team in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, or even down into Louisville, Kentucky. We can figure it out as we go along. As it stands all 6 teams here are already NBA teams; however, the Metro score is less than 1/3rd that of the East 1 division.


Division 3: "South East"


East 3
# Team Metro Pop (M) NBA Team # of Sports Teams 2013
1 Miami Heat 6.4 Yes 4
2 Atlanta Hawks 6.1 Yes 3
3 Orlando Magic 2.9 Yes 1
4 Charlotte Bobcats 2.5 Yes 2
5 New Orleans Pelicans 1.5 Yes 2
6 Memphis Grizzlies 1.4 Yes 1
Average 3.5 6 / 6 2.2

This is another division that is 6/6 NBA teams right now. The main difference is that we've added New Orleans and Memphis from the Western Conference, and moved Washington to the East 1 "Atlantic". I think this works out and less travel time for each of these teams too. There should be no complaints. This division is even smaller in metro size than East 2 "Central".


East 4: "Europe"


East 4
# Team Metro Pop (M) NBA Team # of Sports Teams 2013
1 Istanbul Team 13.8 New 6
2 London Team 13.6 New 14
3 Paris Team 12.2 New 5
4 Milan Team 8.1 New 4
5 Madrid Team 6.4 New 4
6 Berlin Team 5.1 New 8
Average 9.9 0 / 6 6.8

Before you start -- shut up. David Stern wants this. He's said it many times. I'm the guy who is going to make it happen. There's too much money at stake here. Expand the brand. Make paper. Give a lot of Euro stash players a chance to play in the NBA while staying at home. A great retirement set of teams for those players. And the fans are basketball crazy there, if you didn't notice. It only makes sense to expand to Europe. And it only makes sense if you realign the schedule to be based mostly on division opponents and rivals instead of having a home and away with every team in the league. Seriously, Los Angeles to Istanbul x 2 (home and away) x 2 (two LA teams) = nuts. The only way this is going to work is my way, or ramjet engines on passenger planes. A six team group of European teams in the biggest cities really helps out. Istanbul has a world class bball arena. London had the Olympics. France produces more European NBA players than any other foreign nation. Milan is the largest city in Italy, isn't as crazy as Rome, and has great sports fans. Madrid? One of the best cities in the world. Berlin? Not as big as other parts of Germany in terms of Media market -- but they already have a great BBALL Gym, and I think their "Capitol" status may mean the team has to be there. Maybe that means the team is in Rome too. I don't know. I think this is a can't fail idea unlike Euro-Disney. For starters, these 6 places already love the NBA and have home town heroes to cheer for. Don't you see 40 yr old Dirk Nowitzki playing 12 mpg for Berlin and stroking jumpers in the 4th quarter to quiet the Istanbul Janissaries crowd? I do. So does David Stern.


East Overall:

They have a combined metro population of 204.6 million people, and already have 126 major sports teams. I'm asking to build 7 more and I think the population can support that. A lot of these cities already have NBA ball ready arenas (including the East 1 expansion team even if it's not in New Jersey, but where the Pittsburgh Penguins play or where ever.)


Western Conference:

Division 1: "Pacific"


West 1
# Team Metro Pop (M) NBA Team # of Sports Teams 2013
1 Los Angeles Lakers 18.2 Yes 8
2 Los Angeles Clippers 18.2 Yes 8
3 Golden State Warriors 8.4 Yes 7
4 Seattle Supersonics 4.4 New 3
5 Portland Trail Blazers 2.9 Yes 2
6 Sacramento Kings 2.5 Yes 1
Average 9.1 5 / 6 4.8

Duh, this one is easy. Put the teams on the Pacific in this division. Add expansion franchise in Seattle, and move Portland from the Northwest division. I'm not going to take a team out of Sacramento, even if it would mean allowing for adding a San Diego, or Vancouver (a larger market) in this group. Sacramento deserves a team, and here their team shall stay. This group is bolstered by the LA teams, and after all, California really just cares about themselves. Moving towards more division based 82 game strategies will only further solidify this idea.


Division 2: "Rocky Mountain"


West 2
# Team Metro Pop (M) NBA Team # of Sports Teams 2013
1 Denver Nuggets 3.2 Yes 5
2 Vancouver Team 2.6 New 3
3 Utah Jazz 2.4 Yes 2
4 Las Vegas Team 2.3 New 0
5 Calgary Team 1.2 New 2
6 Edmonton Team 1.2 New 2
Average 2.2 2 / 6 2.3

I have a huge problem with the fact that so much of the US and Canada is underpopulated. Geography gets a bit skewed here and I would love nothing more than to NOT have to have two teams in Alberta (but population and actually useful arenas are a thing) -- but all the cities in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, etc are small enough to be considered "households" in some parts of Asia. I would have also liked to get Phoenix up in this biz -- but Vancouver to Phoenix is long. Well, obviously the "secret" would be to move Sacramento to somewhere in this region and put Vancouver in the Pacific? No, not happening. As I said I'm not moving Sacramento. And Phoenix HAS to be in Division 3 in the West for a reason. So the "Rocky" region is on a rocky start. At least we're all pretty much in the same time zone this time -- unlike the current North West which is in 3.

These cities have a much smaller Metro population and our cap benefits will be accrued accordingly! I do like the idea of having one Alberta team and one B.C. team for rivals sake -- and both can be rivals w Toronto too. But too many Canadian teams, I cannot stress enough how much I'm not a fan of that. I do think that the "Destination" team is Las Vegas here. That helps to off-set the smaller markets in this group because that city is all about bling. And you know LV games will be on TV all the time -- which now benefits this division which will be forced to be on TV a lot too.


Division 3: "South West"


West 3
# Team Metro Pop (M) NBA Team # of Sports Teams 2013
1 Mexico City Team 21.4 New 4
2 Dallas Mavericks 7.1 Yes 5
3 Houston Rockets 6.4 Yes 4
4 Guadalajara Team 4.4 New 3
5 Phoenix Suns 4.3 Yes 4
6 San Antonio Spurs 2.2 Yes 1
Average 7.6 4 / 6 3.5

This is where most people, probably racists or anti-globalists (people who seem to never look at trends and where the money is -- check out some of the Goldman-Sachs projections sometime guys!) get upset. "Three new Canadian teams is already too much, not to mention six in Europe . . . but now two in Mexico? This is it." Mexico City has to have a team. It has a metro population of 21.4 million and only has 4 sports teams. We can't ignore all the money there. And we need another team in Mexico too to help balance out the travel time and rivalry games. Why not Guadalajara? It has 3 teams, and they love sports there. They have near state of the art arenas there too as they were hosts of the Pan Am games. Also, they have the 4th largest non-California market size in the Western Conference. Let's move beyond ignorance and racism and see economic gains. It's a shorter flight from Dallas to Guadalajara than it is from Dallas to New York after all.

Thanks to the Mexican teams this is the second largest metro division in the West, and nearly larger than the massive Euro zone too in the East. Also -- if you ever want to make a stand against FIBA and Soccer/Futbol -- having three legendary NBA teams in the same division doesn't hurt.


Division 4: "The Midwest"


West 4
# Team Metro Pop (M) NBA Team # of Sports Teams 2013
1 Minnesota Timberwolves 3.8 Yes 4
2 St. Louis Team 2.9 New 3
3 Kansas City Team 2.4 New 3
4 Oklahoma City Thunder 1.3 Yes 1
5 Omaha Team 0.4 New 0
6 Wichita Team 0.4 New 0
Average 1.9 2 / 6 1.8

I absolutely had to move OKC out of that huge division where they are competing financially against Mexico City (which is more than 10x its' economic size), as much as I dislike them it would be unfair of them to keep them there. They can and will still hold Rivalry games against the teams in Texas -- but they fit in much better with this anemic group. This is the smallest size group, and I just had to struggle to find sufficient places. Minny and OKC headline this group -- but basketball is not unknown to these places.

No group is smaller and these teams are in small areas. But most of them already have pro-style Basketball arenas -- I don't think the arenas in these cities need to be 20k big, they just need to be updated and ready to be similar to the ones in the big cities. Some of them already are.


West Overall:

Though smaller than the Eastern Conference, the total metro population is 124.5 million people, with 75 current sports teams, while adding *gulp* 11 new teams. I wish the population was larger -- but I think adding new teams in Canada and Mexico will help establish some more national and regional brands for the NBA. It will work out in the end because people want to watch the Lakers play -- and the Lakers have to play each of these teams at least twice a season.


Bottom Line:

Larger market presence all over North America, and venturing into Europe. Bringing the American brand of basketball and best competition in the world to 329.1 million people in metro areas, and millions more through regional association. A more spread out season with the same number of games -- but more time to rest and fewer injuries. A more competitive lottery system, and a rejuvenation of rivalries that matter. Also Dirk hitting threes in his 40s and Gary Payton swearing at the other team from the bench of a new Seattle NBA franchise. You want this.



Proposal #2:Larger Court

I mentioned up above that the court dimensions have stayed the same despite players getting bigger, longer, stronger, and faster. Today small forwards have the wingspan of centers not named Wilt Chamberlain, from back in the 60's and 70's. Better training methods, off-season work outs, and nutrition have made this game a different game than a few decades ago. Also with these taller, longer, faster people the risk of stupid injury because of baseline camera men are higher than ever before.

You can train to not get injured. But injuries still happen. I can accept that. I cannot accept completely preventable injuries.

Make the courts bigger. Add a legal dribbling area that extends 2' behind each basket / backboard (94' + 2' + 2' of legal area on the length side of things). And then add a legal dribbling area that extends to 1' on each side (50' + 1' + 1'). Fewer stupid out of bounds calls. Move the cameras back. Fewer stupid injuries. More room for people to make great moves. And more room for stronger, faster, longer players.


The main opposition here is that this would mean losing some expensive rows near courtside. Well, a) too bad, or b) build a larger arena. Even the non-playoff teams get home games in an end of season tournament now, so there's more money to be had in AllThatAmar's NBA. Also use some extra funds to help pay for new arenas renovations: some from the NBA, some from sponsors, and sell TWO ads on the uniforms. (The size of a little shorter strap) One is on the front of the jersey. The other is on the side of the shorts near the hip. Make money. Use money. Make a better product.

Now, making the court larger and the legal area larger is good. I'm not ready to make all the camera people out of jobs and replacing them with fiber optic cameras from under the floor boards yet . . . but push them back and let the athletes do their thing. Good.

But we've made the court bigger? Do we need to make the key bigger like they did in Wilt's time? No. But can we still do something awesome?


The new baseline is 52' long. The three point line at the baseline is 22'. That means from baseline three to baseline three you have a span of 44' in a 52' plane. That leaves 8' total on each sideline/baseline junction -- or 4' on each side.


So we have more space now and better players. Let's quit messing around and bring out the dreaded four-point line.

At baseline, at its' shortest, the 4 point line will be 24' from the basket, 2' behind the current 3 point line. And it will follow that curve around the arc and be at 25'9" straight away. (The NBA distance is currently 23'9")


People used to think the three point line was a gimmick -- but now we can't imagine being without it. The three point line is now 34 years old. I can't imagine people 30 years from now would think a larger court built for larger players with greater skill level would find a 4 point line (that is sufficiently out there) as absurd as you think it is today.



David Stern wants this:

History is about progress and change. And as the NBA Commish I would embrace both of those things -- and make the league more popular and profitable than ever before. Even if it means using some of the NBA's money to help new owners start new franchises and help them then upgrade of build new arenas.

This is precisely the vision David had when we had that meeting of the minds months ago in Brooklyn. He was saying goodbye to the fans. But he was saying "hello" to me as a potential NBA Commissioner for a day.


True story.