NBA commissioner Adam Silver is considering drastically changing the format of the NBA Playoffs. Silver told the broadcast crew in San Antonio on Friday night that he may do away with the division of seeds by conference, and instead accept teams based on their overall record, regardless of geography.
This would be welcome news for the Suns, Grizzlies and Mavericks, who are shuffling around in a battle for just two remaining two playoff spots in the West. As it stands Saturday morning, nine of the best 16 records in the NBA belong to the West. In the East, at least one team will finish with a losing record and make the postseason.
Silver was posed the question by Fox Sports Southwest's Bill Land, and he responded thoughtfully without giving a definite commitment to creating a new system. Of particular importance in considering a new format is the use of chartered planes for team and media travel. When the conferences were created, players flew commercial, making cross country travel for playoff games more difficult.
The NBA has already made the switch to a 2-2-1-1-1 format for this year's Finals, partly because of the ease of travel for media members. The previous 2-3-2 format was thought to be more forgiving on news, making them more likely to cover the event.
It is likely the issue is raised between team ownership and the league sometime soon with the disparity in the conferences reaching a tipping point, and with lost revenue weighing heavy on those teams with top-ranked records missing out on postseason play because of the conference structure.
This 2014 NBA Playoffs start on April 19.
Here's a full transcript of the conversation between Silver, Land and Sean Elliot.
Land: I know one thing we talked about a lot, and I'm sure you get hit everywhere, is what about the possibility of changing how many teams qualify for the playoffs? Or better yet, do you take the top 16 because of the disparity between East and West? Your thoughts, and will there be some movement?
Silver: You know, I don't know if there will be movement. My initial thought is we should take a fresh look at it.
I mean, when these conferences were designed, it was in the day of commercial [air] travel. Sean, is that so?
Elliot: I was around then. I was flying commercial, yes sir.
Silver: So, it was very difficult when we moved teams around the country. And in this day and age, where every team in the league is flying charter, it changes everything.
Incidentally, it is one of the reasons why we moved back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format for this year's Finals. It was moved to 2-3-2 at the beginning of David Stern's commissionership because a lot of the media weren't willing to follow us because of the back-and-forth travel.
In this day and age of chartered planes, it makes sense to keep a consistent format throughout the playoffs.