Things are weird, fast, but I have a solution

Derrick White fights for the lost ball against the Boston Celtics
Photo credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

I hoped that the January 5 match against Boston would be a positive turning point in the Spurs season, which experienced nothing but a smooth ride. Something like the last time San Antonio played against the Celtics. A bit of madness in the late games, a pinch of Spurs playing for a break in the series of losses, and a lot of goals by Dejounte Murray. Put it all together and you’ll get another winning streak, right?

Not quite. Spurs were Lucky he managed to escape from TD Garden with a win That night. And that’s where their happiness passed.

Hopes of building on this victory and climbing among the top six were quickly dashed when Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, Devin Vassell and Thaddeus Young joined Doug McDermott the following day on the COVID-19 list of health and safety protocols.

Would it be silver for those of us who wanted to see more Tre Jones? No. The next day, Jones joined the list of health and safety protocols.

Sigh. This is basketball until further notice, so we’d better get used to it.

Jonesing for Tre

I was really interested in Jones’ development this season and I really wanted to see what Jones would do with more playing time (not that I was defending someone who would get sick or injured in front of him). No, Jones wasn’t ostentatiousbut I feel a certain calm when he’s on the court, which I don’t always feel with guys like Lonnie Walker or Johnson.

That, and maybe I dreamed of what it would mean to trade for someone like Domantas Sabonis. I wanted to know if I could live without some combination of White, Johnson, Walker, Young and Choices if it meant starting a group of Jacob Poeltl, Sabonis, McDermott / Johnson (if they’re still there), Murray and anyone left by the 2. Could Keldon play in 2 and share the court with Doug?

In such a world, could Jones attack the other team with Josh Prime and Vassell? Would Zach Collins and Landale work well off the bench? Bryn Forbes also still exists, I think. And don’t forget that Keita Bates-Diop can also soak up quality minutes. Lately, it’s a nice surprise, even though he’s not able to play the game. He should not. Anyway, not in a healthy team.

Instead of thinking about the above, I watched Tyler Johnson play 30 minutes more Spurs basketball than I ever wanted, which brings me to the next point.

Expansion expansion

We hear serious talk about expanding the league regularly enough to at least think about it. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve lived in basketball-starved Seattle for most of the last five years, and these people really want to have their Sonics back. I don’t blame them.

But look at the league right now. A pandemic doesn’t help, but do we really have enough stars to ADD teams to the league? The NBA is a star-driven league, and at any given time, 3-4 injuries (or COVID cases) separate us from the collapse of the NBA’s upper class. Add two more teams to the league and Tyler Johnson will no longer have a 10-day hardship contract. It has a place in rotation for the Kansas City Tornadoes, who have finished 15th in the West each year.

It’s hard to find NBA stars. Just ask Houston. Check out the Knicks after Carmel Anthony’s departure or post-Derrick Rose Bulls. Remember the Lakers in the last years of Kobe Bryant before LeBron James signed? These are the biggest markets in the United States and was Nick “Swaggy P” Young all they had to show off?

And now we have a pandemic that can effectively halve the size of your team in two days. The expansion seems absolutely insane. Could the solution be … fewer teams with bigger rosters?

I know it will never happen. The quality of the game will always play a second fiddle to the game’s ability to produce dollars for the thirty richest people on the planet, but let’s imagine for a moment that it doesn’t matter.

The new NBA

First, we take the players and selections from the Oklahoma City Thunder and put them in Seattle. No coach or front office employee will be left. The new generation of Sonics has a free hand to build new staff.

Second, the Grizzlies return to Vancouver and the Clippers have to choose between moving to San Diego or Las Vegas. If they choose Las Vegas, they have to choose a new name.

Third, the following teams will be disbanded and their players will be included in the expansion draft:

  • Orlando Magic (because who notices if they’re gone?)
  • Charlotte Hornets (despite the fact that there is a LaMelo Ball, I regularly forget they exist)
  • New Orleans Pelicans (because it’s kinder than letting them wither)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (because neither KAT nor I can stand it anymore)
  • Sacramento Kings (due to general negligence at the highest level)
  • Washington Wizards (largely due to geographical reasons, but also due to apathy)

The NBA rosters will expand to 19 players and there will be a two-round expansion draft to disperse players from the above teams. Players who are not drafted in the expansion will become unlimited free agents.

It was tempting to kill the Suns (because Robert Sarver is a human waste heap) and the Clippers (LA doesn’t need or care about the two teams), but in the end I decided it would be funnier to make the Clippers move to another city after breaking through in their new arena in LA.

We also need conferences. East and West are out, we are going to have four conferences in the future.

Mountain west

  • Vancouver
  • Seattle
  • Portland
  • Golden state
  • Utah
  • Denver

Southwest

  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego / Vegas
  • Phoenix
  • Houston
  • San Antonio
  • Dallas

Great Lakes

  • Toronto
  • Detroit
  • Milwaukee
  • Indiana
  • Chicago
  • Cleveland

East

  • Atlanta
  • Miami
  • Boston
  • New York
  • Brooklyn
  • Philadelphia

Schedule and playoffs

The playoffs will remain a matter for 16 teams. The top four bets are the four conference winners, from best to worst. Seeds 5-16 are determined by the record among non-conference winners.

What happens when a conference winner performs worse than a non-conference winner? This will certainly happen sometime. It does not matter. The winner of the conference will still receive the best four seeds.

The base season will work as follows:

  • 5 games against each opponent from the conference (25 games)
  • 5 games against a rotating conference (30 games)
  • 4 matches against each remaining team (24 games)
  • 1 extra match against teams that finished in the same place in the respective conference places in the previous season (3 matches)

This keeps us at 82 matches without overburdening the opponents’ schedule from the conference. One peculiarity is that each team will eventually play with one of the conference teams six times a season, while it will play with each conference opponent only five times. I leave it because I think it’s fun.

So here you have it, the NBA is saved. Until next time!

David Berry

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