I was thinking of a way to make the schedule work with 60 games. You could have 2 conferences with 2 divisions of 8 teams each = 32 total teams. Each team plays teams in their own division *4, the other division *2, the other conference *1.
7 * 4 = 28 (Same division)
8 * 2 = 16 (Same conference, other division)
16 * 1 = 16 (Other conference)
28 + 16 + 16 = 60 games.
*The only downside to the above is it slightly removes the "even playing field" theory. If teams are only playing the other conference once a season, most trades will tend to be inter-conference. Teams would be hesitant to trade within the conference and even more-so within the division. Not sure how much manager would care about that.