In the latest move in a wave of conference realignment, league sources are reporting that the NBA’s Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Orlando Magic are poised to accept invitations to join the Western Conference. The same sources cite increased exposure, greater revenues, and a higher level of play as the primary reasons for the move.
“This is a big day for us,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “The Eastern Conference treated us well for decades, but we want to be where the best teams are. Plus, it’s hard to get comfortable in a conference where your playoffs air on TNT. You’re always worried aLaw & Orderrerun is going to preempt one of your games.”
“I don't think this was an easy decision for this franchise,” said Magic center Dwight Howard. “I knew that unless I died or lost a leg I’d be starting the All-Star Game for the East for the next 12 years. I grew up dreaming of playing in the real NBA, though, against the best players in the world. And now I finally have a chance to do it. It's about legacy. I can only prove myself in the Western Conference.”
Cavaliers officials are hopeful that the move will help the team retain free agent superstar LeBron James. “Giant contracts are nice and all,” said one team official, bBut now we can promise LeBron that those repeated midseason trips to Detroit and Indianapolis are a thing of the past. That’s huge.”
Commissioner David Stern who says he is now Western Conference Commissioner David Stern says he believes the creation of a mega-conference will improve the financial picture of the NBA.
"Honestly, I have no idea what will happen to what's left of the Eastern Conference," he says. "And I really don’t care. Maybe those teams can join the Big East or something. Their names and level of play are already sort of similar.”
Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference is left scrambling to populate its ranks. The conference has considered adding the University of Kentucky from the NBA, but there are concerns about whether coach John Calipari could get his squad’s payroll under the NBA’s $57.7 million salary cap and still put a competitive team on the court.
“At this point, we’ll take any team with five players. They don’t even have to be healthy or particularly good at basketball,” said New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. “If anyone has a connection with the NBDL’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants, please have them call us.”