Stern wants to reshuffle divisions if NBA expands

NEW ORLEANS -- NBA commissioner David Stern, speaking before the Hornets' first game in New Orleans, revealed Wednesday that he is open to a complete overhaul of the league's divisional structure if a 30th franchise is introduced in Charlotte, as expected, for the 2004-05 season.

Stern's preference is to consider a broad shuffling as opposed to simply moving the Hornets into the West to make space in the East for a Charlotte expansion franchise.

Minnesota and Memphis have also been lobbying league officials for a switch to the East, arguing that that's where they belong geographically.

"If we were to (expand), I think we should go to six divisions and start some real trouble," Stern said. "Let's start from scratch. ... If we ever were to add a 30th team, that would be the occasion to turn it upside-down."

The NBA has operated with a four-division format -- Atlantic, Central, Midwest and Pacific -- since the 1970-71 season. The NHL went to six divisions in 1998-99.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. E-mail him at marc.stein@espn3.com.