If MIN, MEM or NO moved to the East, how would that affect the Cavs?

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

Right now, the NBA stands at 30 teams: 15 in the Western Conference and 15 in the Eastern Conference. There have been rumors going around recently that the NBA could be getting ready to go through an expansion. If the rumors turn out to be true, then Seattle and Las Vegas could soon be part of the National Basketball Association.

Coincidentally, Vegas and Seattle were the last two cities involved in expansion for the National Hockey League as well. When a league goes through expansion, it can have sweeping effects on the other teams. The new team(s) are allowed to draft a player from the other teams in the league to create their initial roster, but the preliminary group of players drafted might not look similar to the final roster that takes the court for the first game of the regular season.

If Vegas and Seattle were awarded NBA franchises, they would have to go to the Western Conference. The West would then have 17 teams and the East would have 15, so someone would have to jump to the East. There are three teams in the West that would pose viable options: the Minnesota Timberwolves (T-Wolves), New Orleans Pelicans (Pels), and the Memphis Grizzlies (Grizz).

If the Timberwolves, Pelicans, or Grizzlies were to move to the Eastern Conference, how would that affect the Cavs?

The T-Wolves and the Cleveland Cavaliers are similar teams. Before the Cavaliers made their blockbuster trade to acquire star guard Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz, the Timberwolves pulled off a massive trade of their own to acquire All-Star center Rudy Gobert from Utah. With the acquisition of Gobert, Karl Anthony Towns (KAT) is allowed to move to power forward. Minnesota hopes they now have the dynamic one-two punch at the center and power forward positions to make a deep run in the playoffs this season alongside rising star guard Anthony Edwards.

The Cavs have a strong pairing at the power forward and center with Evan Mobley (who should’ve won Rookie Of The Year) and Jarrett Allen, who made it to the All-Star Game last season as an injury replacement. Minnesota has D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards in their backcourt, while Cleveland has Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell in their backcourt.

Last season, they both qualified for the NBA Play-In Tournament. While Cleveland fell short against the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota defeated the LA Clippers to qualify for the playoffs. The Wolves gave the Grizz a scare in Round 1, but Memphis was able to survive in six hard-fought games.

Both teams experienced a taste of success last season and now they each have higher expectations. If Minnesota were to make the move from the West to the East, they would most likely be placed in the Central Division alongside the Cavaliers, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, and Pacers. As a result, the Cavaliers and Timberwolves would see each other four times a season. Mobley and Allen vs KAT and Gobert along with Garland and Mitchell vs Russell and Edwards make for intriguing matchups.

Minnesota, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Cleveland would all be fighting for the Central Division crown. The four teams would finish within five games of each other. In that scenario, Milwaukee would most likely come out on top due to having the “Greek Freak” in Giannis Antetokounmpo. In this new, hypothetical, hyper-competitive Eastern Conference, one Central Division competitor would have to go through the Play-In Tournament. Maybe two of them would see each other in Round 1 of the playoffs.

The Grizzlies would be the logical choice to move to the Eastern Conference should Seattle and Vegas be awarded expansion teams because they are the most Eastern team in the Western Conference.

In the season before last, Memphis found themselves in the Play-In Tournament. Although the Grizz were able to make it out of the Play-In Tournament before bowing out in Round 1 against Utah. This past season, the Grizzlies jumped up to the No.2 seed in the West. If the recent trend in the NBA holds true, then the Cavaliers are going to wind up as a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference this season.

Memphis doesn’t have a dynamic backcourt like Cleveland, but the Grizzlies do have Ja Morant who is on his way to becoming a superstar. If the Grizzlies came to the Eastern Conference, we would get Garland vs Morant a minimum of three times a season. Two young, dynamic, crafty, guards who are stars on teams whose contention windows are open now; what’s not to love about that?

Should the Grizzlies be moved to the Eastern Conference, they would most likely be placed in the Central Division. They could also be placed in the Southeast Division with Miami, Orlando, Charlotte, and Atlanta. Either way, Memphis would be considered one of the top contenders in the East. There’s a real possibility they would collide with the Cavaliers in the NBA Playoffs, maybe for the right to play in the NBA Finals.

Even if the Grizzlies never actually come to the Eastern Conference, it would be a fantastic NBA Finals showdown between the Grizzlies and Cavaliers. The series would go the full seven games and every game would be decided by no more than 10 points.

The New Orleans Pelicans would be the least likely team to jump to the East should Vegas and Seattle get expansion teams, however, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. The Pelicans and the Cavaliers are being discussed in a similar vein this season. They’re both in the sleeper category to do damage in their respective conferences.

Smoothie King Center has been a “House Of Horrors” for the Cavaliers recently. Cleveland hasn’t won in New Orleans since the 2009-2010 season when New Orleans was still the Hornets (info courtesy of Landofbasketball.com). At some point, the Cavs will win against the Pelicans in New Orleans, right?

New Orleans has a dynamic small forward-power forward duo in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. The Cavaliers have Evan Mobley as the power forward, but they don’t have a reliable small forward like Ingram.

With the trio of guard CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, and Zion Williamson, the Pelicans would be very formidable should they have to make the jump over to the Eastern Conference. They would most likely be a top-five seed in the East. The whole season, Cleveland and New Orleans would be jockeying for playoff positioning.

With the rumors of Vegas and Seattle getting expansion teams in the future, one of  three teams will have to move from the West to the East. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies, or the New Orleans Pelicans would be the most likely candidates.

Next. Cavs that have best chance of winning each award. dark

If one, two, or all three teams make the jump, it would give the Cavs that much more competition as their contention window is opening.