I see these comments as tacitly acknowledging that the league office is not above board, and that there is a clear gap in competitiveness between the small markets and big markets. Seriously, why not just fold half the damn teams then. The way player movement is trending it may come to that in six years anyways.
The last small market teams to make it to the finals were 2007 when San Antonio swept Cleveland. When small market teams make it to the Finals it's almost invariably a ratings bomb. Is there a compelling reason to believe the NBA actually needs these small markets for anything other than to provide Washington Generals matchups, to quote Dan Gilbert?