The NBA plans to switch to six five-team divisions for the 2004-05 season, when the Charlotte Bobcats become the league's 30th team.
The proposal, which includes having three divisions per conference instead of two, is expected to be approved formally by the board of governors, deputy commissioner Russ Granik said yesterday. A vote could come as early as next month.

Eight teams from each conference still would make the playoffs: the winner of each division plus the teams with the next five best records in each conference.

The NBA will realign along geographic lines. New Orleans will move from the East to the West, and Charlotte will be in the East.

Granik said the regular-season schedule would be affected only minimally by the realignment.

No names were discussed for the new divisions.