Thursday, February 24, 2011

Let's Contract the NBA to 24 Teams

I'm not that guy who wants the NBA to contract any teams ... but maybe it's time for them to realize that (a) basketball talent in the NBA is watered down and (b) the sudden merging of superstars on teams are going to leave smaller markets in the dust. Maybe the NBA needs to cut out six teams to form a 24-team league.

It is easy to pick off a couple of teams for contraction. Easily, the New Orleans Hornets head the list. This is a franchise that no one wants so the NBA bought them. They are easily gone.

The Hornets old stomping grounds, Charlotte, may need to see their Bobcats go bye-bye. I'm from Charlotte and would hate for the NBA to leave the city, but they are newbies and the city hasn't fully embraced the team.

Toronto seems to be another team. I know the NBA likes that international flavor, but the players aren't fans of being there. All their "star players" have bolted when they've had the chance. Raptors are done.

Three down, three to go.

This is where it gets tough. It's hard to figure out who should go out. Well, to get there, let's look at who deserves to stay.

Lakers: Duh.
Celtics: Duh.
Knicks: Duh.
Bulls: Duh.
Sixers: Duh.
Spurs: Duh.
Heat: Just look at all the guys that want to go to South Beach.
Magic: Great city, warm weather and no state tax.
Pistons: Old time team with a rabid fan base.
Rockets: You can't contract a Texas team.
Mavericks: See above, plus they have Marc Cuban.
Wizards: Hoops belong in D.C.

Nets: This team will have Brooklyn on their side.
Clippers: They usually suck, but LA is a great destination.
Kings: IF the Kings move to Anaheim, then they join that desirable mix.
Pacers: Basketball country that supports their team.
Hawks: Very good franchise and Atlanta can be a great destination.
Warriors: Long time franchise with the most underrated fan base.
Suns: Arizona is a place people like to live.
Nuggets: The NBA doesn't want to lose their lone MTZ team.

That leaves the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies. Three of these teams must go.

It is hard to clip the Bucks and Blazers. Both have had their glory days and both are pretty good NBA cities. So they can stay. Cleveland was wobbling a bit after LeBron James left for Miami, but those fans haven't left. That place is still hopping and that team should find their way back. They stay.

So four teams remain on the chopping block and only one survives. Out of the Thunder, T-Wolves, Jazz and Grizzlies ... who deserves to stay?

Seems pretty easy: Utah. I know that Utah is Utah and no one really wants to go there. But this franchise has been a very, very good franchise for 25 years and they can't be contracted ahead of a newish Oklahoma City, been good once Minnesota, and never won a playoff game Memphis. Utah stays, the rest go.

So we contracted the Charlotte Bobcats, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors.

We take it back to the old school and go back to a four division format. Resurrect the Midwest Division and have six teams in each one.

New York


San Antonio

Golden State
LA Clippers
LA Lakers

Not much different than the four division era before aside from Orlando going to the Central Division (someone had to and they fit best) and Milwaukee going to the Midwest Division.

Now, imagine that those six teams are done. That leaves these guys without teams: Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, David West, Tyson Chandler, Marc Gasol, Stephen Jackson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Andy Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan, Ricky Rubio and Mike Conley ... among many, many other solid players.

Have a three round contraction draft using the inverse order of the current standings. Cleveland could get back their next superstar by taking Kevin Durant. Anaheim could get Chris Paul to run with Tyreke Evans. The Wizards could take Kevin Love. The Nets get David West. Pistons take Russell Westbrook. And so on, and so on where 72 of the up-to-90 players get picked. If a team wanted to pass on picking someone in the third round, they could just say "forfeit".

That means the worst 60-70 guys would filter out of the league and each team would be stronger and the money and talent isn't stretched so thin.

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