Northwest

2003-04: 58-24, 1st in Midwest Division.

Coach: Flip Saunders (386-302, .561).

Key addition: 6-10 F Eddie Griffin, 8.6 ppg (free agency).

Key losses: None.

They'll make the playoffs if: The T-Wolves are eyeing a championship after staying whisper quiet this offseason. The hope is that health, not additional talent, will get them the trophy. But team discord threatens as the season beckons. Latrell Sprewell recently stated he will ask for a trade if not given a contract extension by tomorrow's home opener.

What realignment means to them: Almost guarantees a division championship, with the Spurs, Rockets, Mavericks and Grizzlies left to bludgeon each other in the Southwest Division.

2003-04: 43-39, 6th in Midwest Division.

Coach: Jeff Bzdelik (60-104, .366).

Key additions: 6-9 F Kenyon Martin, 16.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.3 bpg (trade); 6-4 G Greg Buckner, 3.1 ppg (free agency).

Key loss: G Jon Barry (free agency).

They'll make the playoffs if: Denver is gunning for a 50-win season. Re-signing Marcus Camby, and getting back a bulkier Carmelo Anthony with an Olympic-sized chip on his shoulder already makes the Nuggets better. Signing Martin has the Nuggets eyeing inclusion with the elite.

What realignment means to them: Like Minnesota, a bit of relief from the three-headed monster in Texas.

2003-04: 41-41, 3rd in Pacific Division.

Coach: Maurice Cheeks (140-105, .571).

Key additions: 6-1 G Nick Van Exel, 12.6 ppg, 5.3 apg (trade); 7-1 C Joel Przybilla, 2.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg (free agency).

Key loss: 6-11 F-C Dale Davis (trade).

They'll make the playoffs if: Their depth can hold up and, as always, they stay out of trouble. Led by Zach Randolph and Shareef Abdur-Rahim in the front court and Damon Stoudamire, Derek Anderson and Darius Miles in the back court, Portland goes nine deep with more talent than just about anyone.

What realignment means to them: One or two kings, maybe a prince and then a bunch of serfs have historically inhabited the former Pacific Division. The Blazers for the past 15 years were either kings or princes. One slip and they'll taste serfdom in the Northwest.

2003-04: 42-40, 7th in Midwest Division.

Coach: Jerry Sloan (917-561, .620).

Key additions: 6-9 F Carlos Boozer, 15.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg (free agency); 6-11 F-C Mehmet Okur, 9.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg (free agency); Kirk Snyder and Kris Humphries (draft).

Key loss: C Greg Ostertag (free agency).

They'll make the playoffs if: Okur and Boozer are the difference-makers many believe they will be. Last season, this team thrived on low expectations. That won't be the case this season.

What realignment means to them: Utah barely missed the postseason last season, losing out to Denver. This could be a budding rivalry.

2003-04: 37-45, 5th in Pacific Division.

Coach: Nate McMillan (160-153, .511).

Key additions: 6-8 F Danny Fortson, 3.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg (trade); C Robert Swift (rookie).

Key losses: 6-6 G Brent Barry (free agency); 6-11 C Calvin Booth (trade).

They'll make the playoffs if: It's hard to envision any circumstances that would land the Sonics a playoff berth. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are not enough, especially without Barry's half-court creativity.

What realignment means to them: Seattle has not competed for a division title since the Gary Payton-Shawn Kemp days. It's more of the same this year.

Pacific

2003-04: 55-27, 2nd in Pacific Division.

Coach: Rick Adelman (658-411, .616).

Key additions: 6-6 G Courtney Alexander, 7.9 ppg (free agency); 7-2 Greg Ostertag, 6.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg (free agency).

Key losses: 7-1 C Vlade Divac (free agency); 6-4 G Anthony Peeler (free agency).

They'll make the playoffs if: The wheels don't fall off. Whether the Kings' title window has shut is another question. G Bobby Jackson is back and Chris Webber claims he is healthy, although it remains to be seen if he can return to form. Peja Stojakovic needs to make the leap from regular season superstar to playoff hero if the Kings want to see the Finals -- Mike Bibby can't do it in the clutch alone.

What realignment means to them: Not much. The Pacific is still the Pacific. It will be the Kings and Lakers all season.

2003-04: 56-26, 1st in Pacific Division.

Coach: Rudy Tomjanovich (473-381, .553).

Key additions: 6-10 F Lamar Odom, 17.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg (trade); 6-7 F Caron Butler, 9.2 ppg (trade); 7-1 C Vlade Divac, 9.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg (free agency); 6-9 F Brian Grant, 8.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg (trade).

Key losses: 7-1 C Shaquille O'Neal (trade); 6-4 G Gary Payton (trade); 6-1 G Derek Fisher (free agency).

They'll make the playoffs if: The new meshes with Kobe Bryant, whose new contract and well-documented issues with O'Neal and former coach Phil Jackson were at the root of the team's offseason makeover. The Lakers still have plenty of talent, depth and versatility. And they have Bryant.

What realignment means to them: They play Portland four times instead of six.

2003-04: 29-53, 6th in Pacific Division.

Coach: Mike D'Antoni (35-76, .315).

Key additions: 6-3 G Steve Nash, 14.5 ppg, 8.8 apg (free agency); 6-5 G-F Quentin Richardson, 17.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg (free agency).

Key loss: 6-9 F Antonio McDyess (free agency).

They'll make the playoffs if: The Suns get bang for their bucks in Nash and Richardson. Nash, the playmaking Canadian, could be a godsend for the Suns' bunch of scorers and finishers. That's if Joe Johnson and Richardson don't start squabbling over minutes.

What realignment means to them: Phoenix isn't thinking division crown, but it will be battling conference foes Utah, Portland and Memphis for a playoff spot.

2003-04: 37-45, 5th in Pacific Division.

Coach: Mike Montgomery (first season).

Key additions: 6-1 G Derek Fisher, 7.1 ppg (free agency); 6-11 F-C Dale Davis, 4.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg (trade); 6-8 F Eduardo Najera, 3.0 ppg (trade).

Key losses: 6-11 C Erick Dampier (trade); 6-1 G Nick Van Exel (trade), 6-8 F Brian Cardinal (free agency).

They'll make the playoffs if: Pigs fly. This is a young team that wasn't good last season, and it is dealing with the loss of its starting center and point guard. Adding to its issues is the arrival of Montgomery to a league that traditionally eats up college coaches. It's all a part of General Manager Chris Mullin's rebuilding plan.

What realignment means to them: The difference between "next-to-last" and "third-worst."

2003-04: 28-54, 7th in Pacific Division.

Coach: Mike Dunleavy (426-444, .490).

Key additions: 6-5 G Kerry Kittles, 13.5 ppg; 6-7 G Shaun Livingston (rookie).

Key losses: 6-5 G-F Quentin Richardson (free agency); 6-10 F Melvin Ely (trade).

They'll make the playoffs if: Well, they won't. It may be only a matter of time before good soldier Elton Brand gets restless in public.

What realignment means to them: They don't have to travel out of state as much anymore.

Southwest

2003-04: 57-25, 2nd in Midwest Division.

Coach: Gregg Popovich (396-210, .653).

Key addition: 6-6 G Brent Barry, 10.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg (free agency).

Key losses: 6-10 F Hedo Turkoglu (free agency); 7-0 C Kevin Willis (free agency).

They'll make the playoffs if: The Spurs have title aspirations, banking on Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili taking another step up and the addition of Barry, who gives them a versatile, savvy outside threat. Tim Duncan needs that.

What realignment means to them: They still see Dallas and Houston more than they would like. But they're not fighting with Minnesota for a division crown. That means they should be guaranteed a top-three seed.

2003-04: 52-30, 3rd in Midwest Division.

Coach: Don Nelson (1148-858, .572).

Key additions: 6-11 C Erick Dampier, 12.3 ppg, 12.0 rpg (trade); 6-2 G Jason Terry, 16.8 ppg, 5.4 apg (trade); 6-3 G Devin Harris (rookie).

Key losses: 6-1 G Steve Nash (free agency); 6-9 F Antawn Jamison (trade); 6-9 F Antoine Walker (trade).

They'll make the playoffs if: Rookie Harris, just named opening day starter, can keep the car running, since the departed Steve Nash is often referred to as the former 'motor' for the Mavericks. Owner Mark Cuban said this is the best Dallas team since he took over. This we know: They're more athletic, nasty and capable of defending than their prior prolific versions. Does that get them deeper in the playoffs?

What realignment means to them: If there is a division that can compete with last year's Midwest in terms of competition, it's this Southwest Division. The Hornets are probably the worst team. Not many gimmes for the Mavs.

2003-04: 45-37, 5th in Midwest Division.

Coach: Jeff Van Gundy (293-209, .584).

Key additions: 6-8 G-F Tracy McGrady, 28.0 ppg, 5.5 apg (trade); 6-9 F Juwan Howard, 17.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg (trade); 6-2 G Charlie Ward, 6.0 ppg (trade).

Key losses: 6-3 G Steve Francis (trade); 6-4 G Cuttino Mobley (trade); 6-11 F-C Kelvin Cato (trade).

They'll make the playoffs if: They don't implode. A Yao Ming-McGrady one-two punch is a devastating thing, but there are questions: Will McGrady willingly submit the "number one option" role to a center who may not be ready for it yet? If Ward is the starting point guard, where's the bench?

What realignment means to them: Maybe not in this year's election, but in the NBA Texas is a battleground state.

2003-04: 50-32, 4th in Midwest Division.

Coach: Hubie Brown (419-483, .465).

Key addition: 6-8 F Brian Cardinal, 9.6 ppg (free agency).

Key losses: None.

They'll make the playoffs if: They didn't lose any key pieces from last season's 50-win team and added the industrious and talented Cardinal, but they are far from a lock for postseason play in the West. Cardinal is no Kenyon Martin or Carlos Boozer -- and he's definitely no Tracy McGrady. This is relative subtraction by addition.

What realignment means to them: A brutal division schedule, and serious competition with Denver and Utah for a playoff berth.

2003-04: 41-41, 3rd in Central Division.

Coach: Byron Scott (149-139, .517).

Key additions: 6-7 F Rodney Rogers, 7.8 ppg (free agency); 6-6 G J.R. Smith (draft).

Key losses: 6-8 F Robert Traylor (free agency); 6-8 F Stacey Augmon (free agency).

They'll make the playoffs if: They could have stayed in the East. They left low-key Charlotte and their supportive fan base for a city where most of the year is a big frat party. Baron Davis has to earn his money this year.

What realignment means to them: No team was hurt more by the league's realignment. New Orleans went from a borderline conference powerhouse to a bottom-feeder. Why do you think Davis and Jamaal Magloire are crying for trades?

-- Vincent Thomas

Latrell Sprewell is making noise about his contract after team's quiet offseason.Chris Webber and the Sacramento Kings prepare to take aim -- again -- at the Lakers.Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs are looking at a top-three seed in the Western Conference.