NBA Expansion: Why the Timberwolves may soon join the Eastern Conference

With NBA expansion only a matter of time, the Minnesota Timberwolves may soon change conferences and it could have huge ramifications for the up-and-coming team.
Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three
Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages
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The move makes sense for Minnesota on and off the court

The Wolves are the most likely team that could be shifted to the east if Las Vegas and Seattle join the NBA, and it’s probably in their best interest as well. While some teams in the NBA have the luxury of traveling less, because their division mates are closer, Minnesota is in a division with teams very spread out across the states. Each season, the Wolves have to make their way all the way out west to Portland, all the way down to Oklahoma City, and then travel to the mountains to visit both Denver and Utah.

Minnesota is significantly closer in distance and time to the Central Division featuring the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, and Cleveland Cavs. In fact, this grouping has two teams in the same central time zone as Minnesota, whereas in the Northwest Division, only the Oklahoma City Thunder share a time zone with Minnesota.

From an NBA standpoint, a move to the east could also benefit Minnesota and Anthony Edwards and Co. try to build toward a championship. The Western Conference as a whole has been widely regarded as the tougher conference from top to bottom for much of the last two decades, so the Wolves removing themselves from the gauntlet could be helpful.

Additionally, Minnesota is currently in the same division as the 2023 NBA champion Denver Nuggets, The team that finished as the #1 seed in the west in the Oklahoma City Thunder and a rebuilding team with tons of draft capital and assets for the future in the Utah Jazz.

There is a chance that the Memphis Grizzlies or New Orleans Pelicans could be options to move east instead of Minnesota, however, the cases for those franchises are less strong. Memphis and New Orleans are currently joined with all of the Texas teams in the Southwest Division and from a practical standpoint it does make sense. If the NBA does elect to keep Minnesota in the Western Conference however, they would be the teams on deck and in the hole.