NBA Commish-in-Waiting Says Divisions Could Be Disbanded

Adam Silver knows how to drum up some drama.

While making an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio, the NBA’s commissioner-in-waiting, who will replace David Stern once he retires on Feb. 1 of next year, did just that, according to USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt:

The Deputy Commissioner’s comments bring perspective to a season in which the Eastern Conference has been absolutely horrid. “Historically bad” might actually be the words I’m looking for.

When Dec. 1 rolled around, the East reached new levels of terrible. Only two teams—the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers—were above .500 then, the first time that had happened since 1972, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (via Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck).

Not much has changed since. Over a week later, only three teams—Miami, Indiana and the Atlanta Hawks—are sitting above .500. Talk of a 50-loss playoff team (you’re reading that correctly) has even started to gain momentum.

This is why some of the Eastern Conference teams should fear the Competition Committee’s next pow wow—especially those in the Atlantic Division, where the 10-12 Boston Celtics lead the pack.

Eliminating divisions prevents inferior competition from not only securing home-court advantage through the first round of the playoffs, but also ensures postseason seedings have no layers to them.

Case in point: Boston actually has the sixth-highest winning percentage (.455) in the East right now, yet it would finish as the No. 4 seed. Catch my drift?

Not much would change in the Western Conference. They have 10 teams currently with a .500 record or better, exactly four times that of the East. The best teams tend to win their division and make the playoffs. Unjust shafts are reserved for the ultra-terrible Eastern Conference. 

Dissolving divisions would certainly increase league-wide parity, but it wouldn’t solve existing imbalance entirely. The NBA would have to disband the conferences for that to happen.

It also does little to help the Portland Trail Blazers’ latest request:

Maybe the Competition Committee can tackle switching conferences at the clambake after this one.

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Divisions II, III get in on Final Four

The NCAA will hold the Divion II and III championship games in Atlanta, the same city as the Final Four.



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NBA Atlantic Division: What Will Be the Division’s Biggest Rivalry This Season?

According to Webster’s Dictionary a rivalry is a competitive or antagonistic state or condition. That’s an apt description of how the NBA‘s Atlantic Division will be this season. Boston is top dog in the division and will wear the biggest bull’s eye once again. 

But which rivalry will be the biggest, the meanest and the most fun in the ultra competitive Atlantic? I’ll give you a hint, the teams are based in the Big Apple. The Knicks and Nets are poised to wage fierce battles for years to come. All of the key components are in place.

First, and most importantly, both teams will be pretty good and should make the playoffs. The Lakers and Clippers shared Los Angeles for years and no one paid much attention because the Clippers couldn’t get out of their own way. Insert Chris Paul and a dash of Lob City. All of a sudden things get a little chippy. Okay, things attempt to get a little petty and fail miserably, and in one season it’s a budding rivalry.

When both teams place a good product on the court at the same time over a prolonged period of time that’s what allows rivalries to grow, develop and make reputations for themselves that are unique to that rivalry and that rivalry alone. Imagine if New York and Brooklyn are seeded fourth and fifth (or vice versa, to be fair) and meet up in the first round of this year’s playoffs. That series will be an absolute war. 

Secondly, the Nets are officially moving into New York City. Nets fans no longer have to make their way out to the Meadowlands. They will now call the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn home. The timing is perfect as they endeavor to compete with the Knicks on and off the court and throughout the city.

The town is big enough for the both of them. It will be fun to see how divided it will really become now.

 

Third, at least one owner needs to be very outspoken on matters concerning the rivalry. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has already shown that he’s more than willing to do this. At 6’8″ a lot of men are going to appear little to Prokhorov, at 5’6″ Knicks owner, James Dolan fits the description perfectly.

The linked statement, referring to Dolan as a “that little man” was funny and true at the same time and it’s one of Mikhail’s ways of telling New York, Dolan and the Knicks that the Nets are going to have to be reckoned with whether anyone likes it or not. 

This is perfect owner bravado for the situation. Imagine if an additional NBA or NFL team were about to start its inaugural season in Dallas. How much smack would Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban be talking? The battle for city supremacy on and off the court or field would be constant, as it will be in New York.

There’s only one component that the Nets are missing in this rivalry mix. They need a big time celebrity. Jay-Z is top notch, you can’t get any better than that.  But he’s a part owner. I’m talking about a famous Nets fan who’s court side for all 41 home games a la Spike Lee and Jack Nicholson. It will come with time.

The Knicks and Nets rivalry is ready to take off. They have squared off three times in the playoffs with the Knicks winning two of the series but the Nets have been to The Finals more recently. I’m looking forward to their next playoff matchup.

A motivated Raymond Felton versus Deron Williams, or Carmelo against Joe Johnson sounds pretty good. The world will be watching.

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Big Ten Basketball’s Look with Leaders and Legends Divisions

With the addition of Nebraska into the Big Ten Conference in July 2011, the Big Ten expanded to 12 teams. The purpose of this move was so that the conference could split up into two divisions and have a Big Ten Championship game at the end of the season between the two division winners.

While the Nebraska addition was made primarily for football, I think it would be interesting to look at how the basketball divisions would stack up if divided between the Leaders and Legends. Only a handful of conferences use divisions for basketball, and the Big Ten has never been one of them.

While this is purely hypothetical and will not happen anytime soon, if ever, I decided to split up the divisions and rank both the teams and players in each to determine which would be stronger during the upcoming season.

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Magic Spite Themselves to Pretend That Divisions Matter in the NBA

The Orlando Magic‘s trade return on Dwight Howard has been analyzed in every way possible, but from no angle does a collection of mid-level assets look promising.

Thus, Orlando’s rebuild begins with a setback; rather than operating from a clean slate (after ditching the contracts of Hedo Turkoglu or Glen Davis) or picking up compelling assets (like those offered by the Houston Rockets), the Magic will move forward with Arron Afflalo and a pocket full of change.

Things certainly could have gone better for Orlando and considering the delays and deliberation throughout the trade process, they were certainly expected to.

But as is hinted above, that’s essentially the Magic’s fault. Whether newly hired GM Rob Hennigan, chief executive officer Alex Martins or some other front office party was responsible for the blunder is almost beside the point.

The front office as a collective failed this team’s rebuilding efforts with their refusal to accept superior trade packages. Each offer that was reportedly rejected only adds to the basketball public’s bewilderment.

The best bit of Orlando’s inexplicable judgment yet: according to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks may have been ruled out as a potential trade partner due to their position within the Magic’s division:

[Hawks GM Danny Ferry] approached the Orlando Magic about a trade for Howard in early July but was turned down. He never had the opportunity to share his vision with Howard and try to convince him the dysfunction that Howard (an Atlanta native) was familiar with was a thing of the past. It never even got as far as being in position to convince Howard to sign an extension.

“We had discussions with Orlando about Dwight Howard,” Ferry said. “They were apprehensive to trade him within the division.”

That may seem to hard to fathom. Logically, the Magic should’ve been more concerned about acquiring strong assets for Howard than him playing for another Southeast Division team. But given the dumpster full of unspectacular players, bad contracts and lottery-protected draft picks the Magic ended up with in the four-player trade, maybe it’s not so hard to believe.

There is no construction in the NBA more arbitrary than divisions—a system of separation that seems to exist strictly for convenience’s sake. Considering the difficult job that the NBA’s schedule makers have as is, playing four games against each opponent in-division may help in orchestrating the complicated travel plans of 30 NBA teams.

But that’s no reason to pretend like these divisional relationships really matter for any other reason, particularly among two teams who have played out playoff series against one another without much incident or contempt.

The Hawks and Magic have been introduced, but there’s no spiteful chemistry to be found. Rivalry relationships can only occur organically and despite being given several chances to spark a flame, Orlando and Atlanta made for a cold postseason pairing.

Yet for whatever reason, the Magic decided to lend credence to a relatively useless construct and in the process deny themselves a chance to get players like Josh Smith, Al Horford or Jeff Teague.

Atlanta had plenty of pieces that would be worthy of inclusion in a deal for Howard, but faced an uphill battle on the basis of proximity.

Pause for a minute and consider how ridiculous that very idea is; Orlando certainly isn’t the first team to be overly concerned with trading a superstar player within their own conference, but if Atlantic Division ties really had anything to do with the Hawks’ inability to push a deal through, then the Magic deserve the “haul” of underwhelming assets they received in dealing Howard.

When making a deal as important as this one, teams don’t really have the luxury of dictating these kinds of specifics. Yes, it’d be nice if an outgoing superstar could be dealt across the country, but that consideration should come secondary to creating cap space and acquiring high-level assets.

Somehow, Orlando did neither of those things while trading away one of the best players in the league.  If this bit of intel from Ferry (via Schultz) is at all indicative of the Magic’s process, one can see how this particular trading failure came to pass.

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Atlanta to host 3 divisions of NCAA title games (Yahoo! Sports)

ATLANTA (AP) All three divisions of NCAA men’s basketball will see their 2013 national champions crowned during Final Four weekend in Atlanta.

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Miss. State coach Rick Stansbury says SEC needs divisions

Despite every coach in the Southeastern Conference disagreeing with him, Rick Stansbury isn’t quieting down.



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SEC eliminates divisions for basketball (AP)

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive talks to media during the SEC Media Days on Wednesday, July 21, 2010, in Hoover, Ala.

There will be one basketball division in the Southeastern Conference along with some unhappy football coaches. School presidents and chancellors voted Friday to eliminate divisions in men’s basketball and to reduce the annual signing classes in football to 28 players. SEC football coaches voted unanimously to keep the number at 28.


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SEC votes to cap football signees at 25, end hoops divisions

The Southeastern Conference has capped football signing classes at 25, a move coaches voted against and one school presidents hope will be adopted …



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SEC expected to eliminate divisions (AP)

Men’s basketball in the Southeastern Conference is about to be united. The league is expected to eliminate divisions Friday, a move that would make seeding the postseason tournament more fair but also could create some scheduling issues. The SEC’s 12 basketball coaches proposed to athletic directors this week that the league scrap the divisional format and that the tournament be seeded 1…

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