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Re-imagining the NBA: Realignment, Rebranding, and Restructure

With recent news of a possible New Orleans' name change and a potential Sacramento relocation, I was led to consider how I would like the NBA to be. These ideas are purely hypothetical, but I think they could lead to a more interesting, more exciting NBA.

First the Realignment. I know that realistically, contraction should be the best option, but I opted for adding two expansion teams. I think a league like the NFL has with 32 teams, two conferences, with four divisions and four teams in each division is an ideal alignment for the league. I arranged the divisions based on what I think could create the most heated rivalries and made the most sense geographically.

Here's how it breaks down:

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The realigned layout is not perfect. With two expansion teams, the Northwest Division is particularly weak. Otherwise, I think this layout would create a great league geographically.

In terms of restructuring the league, each team would play its division rival four times, its conference rivals three times, and play each non-conference team twice. This schedule leads to a total of 80 games. It would make practical sense for the NBA to have a shorter season; however, the NBA is not going to give up the money they make by having all the games a current regular season does. I propose that the NBA has adds another two-week break in the season. One after the first thirty games and the second after the next thirty games. This would allow for more injury recovery time and fewer missed games. It would also prevent small injuries from snowballing and leading to bigger problems. The All-Star weekend would occur during the second break.

During the first break it would be cool to do some sort of interleague competition between the NBA and a foreign league. Maybe even a four-team tourney between the top teams in Europe, Asia, and the NBA. Each team could treat it like a friendly and keep their stars' minutes down. The Trade Deadline would also occur during the first break, this would cut down on mediocre teams from tanking late in seasons because any trades would have to happen earlier in the season. Keeping teams from tanking is especially important because I am in favor of losing the draft lottery in favor of a more standard, worst-team-gets-top-pick, style draft. This would further competitive balance and force teams to be more competitive.

I also think a few teams should rebrand:

The Seattle Expansion Team: Seattle should obviously revive the "Supersonics" name and colors. Not much work needs to be done there.

Memphis: Should rename themselves the "Blues." Very similar to the St. Louis NHL team, as the color scheme is identical, but imagine the current Memphis jerseys with "BLUES" printed on them. Looks pretty cool.

Utah: Should rename themselves the "Salt Lake City Swarm." Bees are big in Utah, clearly more popular than jazz music, and black and gold jerseys exist nowhere else in the NBA. I would be especially excited to see the gold road alternates that have "SLC" on the chest. The location name is changed for the alliteration factor. The nickname also pokes some fun at the whole Hornets-Jazz-Charlotte debacle by referencing more bees.

New Orleans: Should claim back the "Jazz"

with their Mardi Gras colors. If they cannot get it back from Utah, then go with the "Brass," but "Jazz" is perfect for the birthplace of Jazz.

Charlotte: Despite mixed reactions to the idea from the Charlotte fan base (as seen on Rufus on Fire), Charlotte should go back to being the Hornets. The great color scheme and awesomely subtle Revolutionary War reference (look it up) are too great to pass up.

Washington: Washington's name is awful. When I hear it, I think of either an old, senile, bearded man, or an angst teenager. Not to mention the KKK connotations. Washington got one thing right by changing their color scheme this year, but they should also change their name. I think the "Federalists" would be a cool name and "Feds" is a good-sounding shortened name. Really any patriotic name would work.

Vancouver Expansion Team: If Vancouver is granted another team, it should reclaim the "Grizzlies" name. It is a really cool name for a team placed where it makes sense. I also like the black jerseys the Grizzlies wore before they switched to the current ones. Maybe go back to those?

Las Vegas Expansion Team: If Vancouver does not get the expansion team and Vegas does, I am in favor of naming them the "21's." I think it is a pretty cool name without forcing a really goofy-looking logo like "Aces" or "Jokers" might. It could be an issue if officials want to downplay the gambling scene. Then something cowboy-related might be better. I like black, red, and gold for a color scheme.

Anaheim: If the Kings move to Anaheim (which hopefully they do not), supposedly they will change their name to the "Royals," which I think is wrong. The Kings franchise, though historically the nomad of the league, has been in Sacramento long enough for the city to keep the Royalty theme and its respective history for themselves. I kind of like the nickname "Amigos" for Anaheim. If they do keep the Royalty theme, I like "Reyes" (Kings in Spanish) for the name change.

Anyways, that is how I re-imagined the NBA. Let me know what you think.

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