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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Lakers GM Rob Pelinka talks about the acquisition of LeBron James and other free agents at a news conference Wednesday in El Segundo, Calif. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018 1:00 am

NBA

Playoff format tweak still under discussion

Staff, news services

LAS VEGAS – It's so secret that the talent level between the NBA Eastern and Western Conferences is unbalanced. It became more tilted in the West's favor when LeBron James signed with the Lakers.

Because of the imbalance, the NBA Board of Governors on Tuesday continued a discussion about changing the playoff format. Under the new idea, the playoffs would include the top 16 teams regardless of conference. Right now, the top eight teams in each conference compete in separate brackets.

“I've said before that the most significant obstacle to seeding 1 through 16, as appealing as that would be to me and a lot of fans, is the dramatic increase in travel that would follow,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The league estimates that seeding 1 through 16 in the playoffs would increase overall playoff travel by 40 percent to 50 percent.

“We've spent a lot of time in the last few years trying to reduce the number of back-to-backs, to reduce the amount of fatigue on players based on crossing time zones,” he said. “So obviously, if we were to make that change, it would work in the other direction.

“It doesn't mean that it can't, but it's not something we could do quickly because it would require a wholesale reexamination of how we do our schedule.”

Lakers GM speaks

Rob Pelinka says the Los Angeles Lakers aren't trying to beat the Golden State Warriors at their own game. Instead, they're building a team around LeBron James to do something different.

Pelinka spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since the Lakers' remarkable offseason overhaul began and radiated excitement about a team that hasn't made the playoffs in five seasons.

“To get the commitment from LeBron James to come to the Lakers for four years was really the culmination of everything we've been working towards,” said Pelinka, the Lakers' general manager. “When LeBron chose to come here, it was the ultimate validation for the moves we've made and what we've been building since we started.”

The club also added veterans Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson alongside their young core.

Pelinka and top executive Magic Johnson hope the result is a sturdy, defense-minded team with enough up-tempo offense to trouble the Warriors, the Houston Rockets and every other contender for the title.

“I think to try to play the Warriors at their own game is a trap,” Pelinka said.

Summer League

The Indiana Pacers lost their first-round tournament game in Las Vegas, blowing a 25-point lead in the second half and falling 107-101 to the Atlanta Hawks. Alex Poythress, a former Mad Ants player, led the Pacers with 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting. First-round draft pick Aaron Holiday had 13 points and nine assists. Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey is coaching the Pacers, who play a consolation game Friday against Brooklyn. ... Fort Wayne native Reggie Hearn had four points and five rebounds in Detroit's 64-59 win over Minnesota. ... Reggie Upshaw scored 24 points and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 17 points as the Clippers beat Washington 89-74. ... Collin Sexton had 25 points and seven assists as Cleveland beat Sacramento 96-84.