KnicksA common complaint among NBA fans is the aggravating practice of giving popular, yet woefully under-performing teams national television appearances. For example, everyone knew heading into the season the neither Lakers nor Knicks team would be any good, but it didn’t stop the schedule makers from giving them 36 combined national television appearances.

In the case of those two teams, there’s more to it than talent and records. Team history, market size, fan base size and star power are all factored into the decision. Still, the Lakers are 1-9 and the Knicks are 3-8, and, outside of BDSM enthusiasts and people who find tremendous pleasure in laughing at train wrecks, nobody really wants to watch that garbage.

The problem is, it’s tough to find replacement games for “marquee” matchups that have lost their luster. This is due in most part to the NBA schedule, as any replacement game would have to already be scheduled for that day, and involve teams/players enticing enough for a network to change its travel plans. Fortunately, ESPN’s Wednesday and Friday double-headers tend to line up with a full slate of NBA games, so picking a new game isn’t as difficult as, say, Thursday (which is impossible because TNT’s double-headers often are, almost always, the only two games scheduled). Also, the later game has to be a game that takes place in a Western time zone. The NBA doesn’t want to push a Bulls-Wizards game to 10:30 just to fill a time slot.

Last season, ESPN chose to ditch the Lakers a couple times, but they dilly-dallied until a couple months into the season to make sure of the Lakers’ awfulness. ESPN, evidently, has a quicker trigger this season, as they’ve already pulled the plug on the Knicks (for one night, at least). The Knicks-Spurs game on December 10th is being swapped out for a much more enticing Pelicans-Mavericks game, which, aside from featuring this guy, pits two division rivals that are currently in the top eight in the Western Conference.

There’s no doubt ESPN will pull similar moves the rest of the year, but, alas, it won’t be all Knicks and Lakers games. Thus, you’ll be stuck watching them like the rest of us while Anthony Davis dominates opponents on deep cable.