“Laker coach Byron Scott applauds his players in the fourth quarter. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings 98-95 in Los Angeles, CA. December 9, 2014. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)”
It rarely happens, if ever. But the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban actually agree about something.
Lakers coach Byron Scott likes Cuban’s recent proposal that the NBA should realign their conferences considering the disparity between the Eastern and Western Conference. Case in point, the Miami Heat (12-14) and Brooklyn Nets (10-14) are slated to make the playoffs as the seventh and eight seed, respectively, despite having records below .500. Meanwhile, Scott described the Western Conference as a “monster,” featuring the Golden State Warriors (22-3), Memphis Grizzlies (21-4), Portland Trail Blazers (20-6) and Houston Rockets (19-6).
“It doesn’t make sense geographically. But other than that, he has a good point,” Scott said. “There’s a few teams, us included, that would love to be in the Eastern Conference right now.”
That’s because the Lakers (8-17) currently are five games behind the New Orleans Pelicans (13-12) for the Western Conference’s eighth playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Lakers are only 2 1/2 games behind Brooklyn for what would be the Eastern Conference’s last postseason seed.
Still, Cuban told reporters earlier this season that his conference realignment proposal would entail the Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans moving to the Eastern Conference. The Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks would move to the West.
The Western Conference already became more difficult after the Mavericks acquired star guard Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson and draft picks.
“Rondo is one of the better point guards in this league, there’s no doubt about that,” Scott said. “From that standpoint, it makes Dallas a better team. Offensively, because of the way he can distribute that basketball and find guys and rebound the ball at that position. He’s an asset, no doubt about that. The one thing in this Western conference is that most of these point guards can score. That’s going to put pressure on him to guard. He’s been a pro for a long time and has a ring on his finger. I think he’ll be fine.”
Scott saw the move as a sign “Dallas wants to win right now,” but wondered aloud about Rondo’s future after this season. A Lakers official downplayed reports the team offered Steve Nash’s expiring $9.8 million contract and a first-round pick to Houston for Rondo. The Lakers would have enough cap space to sign him this offseason.
“At the end of the year is he still a free agent?” Scott asked, rhetorically. “It’s going to be interesting.”
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