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Adam Silver open to playoff changes

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he's open to revamping the current playoff structure by eliminating conference seeding and instead going with the league's 16 best teams.

Silver, who appeared on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area during Wednesday night's Mavericks-Warriors game, elaborated on an issue that he also had brought up during an interview in December with ESPN's Andy Katz for "Outside the Lines."

"Ultimately, we want to see your best teams in the playoffs," Silver said during Wednesday's game. "And there is an imbalance and a certain unfairness."

"Ultimately we want to see your best teams in the playoffs. And there (currently) is an imbalance and a certain unfairness. ... A lot of owners have strong feelings on it, but I think it is an area where we need to make a change."

Adam Silver, NBA commissioner

The Western Conference has had a decided edge over the Eastern Conference for quite some time, especially this season, with it having 10 of the league's best 16 records.

Silver said he'd be willing to talk to the league's competition committee about a plan in which the six division winners would receive automatic berths and the remaining 10 playoff positions would be determined by overall record, regardless of conference affiliation.

"I think that's the kind of proposal we need to look at. There are travel issues, of course, but in this day and age every team, of course, has their own plane, travels charter," Silver said. "... It's something I'm going to look at closely with the competition committee. A lot of owners have strong feelings on it, but I think it is an area where we need to make a change."

Silver said he'd need input from the league's owners before proceeding with any such changes.

Under the proposal, teams such as Charlotte (22-27) and Miami (21-28), which currently rank in the playoff-eligible top eight in the Eastern Conference, would be supplanted by New Orleans (26-23) and Oklahoma City (25-24) in the West in a changed qualifying structure.

"I don't think the discussion should end there," Silver said of potential changes. "And as I've said, my first year I was studying a lot of these issues, and Year 2 is time to take action."

In the December interview with Katz, Silver also said the league is "looking at" conference realignment amid concerns that the current structure of two geographically based conferences might not be the best way to determine an NBA champion anymore.

"Realignment," Silver said, "is something we're looking at."