A 65 percent share of the Sacramento Kings has been sold to hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, all but solidifying the team's move north to become the second incarnation of the Seattle SuperSonics.
The move to the Emerald City has Seattlites eager to revive the I-5 rivalry between the Supersonics and the Portland Trailblazers. Currently, however, the Kings are in the Pacific division while the Trailblazers are in the Northwest Division. For the rivalry to be fully rekindled, the two teams would have to be in the same division, and it certainly makes geographical sense.
A possible realignment could lead to broader changes in the Western Conference. Three likely scenarios exist, but since there has been no official announcement, anything is possible.
Scenario One — Seattle to Northwest Division, Utah Jazz to Pacific Division
This scenario would be the easiest to execute. Simply switching the Kings/Sonics with the Jazz would allow Seattle back into the Northwest Division without causing any major travel disruptions for the Jazz. Seattle would once again be in the same division as Portland, and Sonics fans would love nothing more than to deny Oklahoma City divisional bragging rights.
The addition of the Jazz to the Pacific Division would also benefit Phoenix, as they are currently the only team in the division not in the western time zone. The move may not be ideal for the Jazz, though, as they would have to compete with the Lakers, Clippers and up and coming Golden State in what may be the toughest division in the western conference.
Scenario Two — Portland to Pacific Division, Phoenix to Northwest Division
This scenario would also be fairly easy to implement from a logistical stand point. Moving Portland to the Pacific division would shrink the size of the already massive Northwest division to a more manageable size and shifting Phoenix to a different division would put the entire Pacific division in the same time zone.
The only real loser in this situation would be Phoenix, which currently benefits from playing all divisional road games in California and would face considerably increased travel for divisional match ups.1 comment on this story
The hang up here is that the so called Northwest Division would probably have to be renamed.
Scenario Three — Complete Western Conference shake up
Geographically, the Northwest division is already a mess. When the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, the geographical boundaries of the division stretched to almost 2,000 miles wide. Geographically speaking, it is the island of misfit toys. Geographically, Minnesota and Memphis would probably be better in the Eastern Conference as part of the Central and Southeast divisions respectively, and the Thunder would be better served in the Southwest Division. However this scenario is by far the least likely as it would be a logistical nightmare to make the numbers work out correctly.