As the dust begins to settle after a very active free agent signing period where we saw some big names switch teams, none bigger than Lebron James returning home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, we see some dramatic shifts in the betting odds to win the 2015 NBA championship.
Las Vegas odd makers believe that with the acquisition of James, the Cavs, a 33 win team last year that did not make the playoffs despite playing in a very weak conference, are the favorites to come out of the East. The Cavs were at 40 to 1 to win the 2015 championship on June 16th; today, their odds are 9 to 2. The impact that Vegas odds makers believe James will have for the Cavs is staggering. Had you bet a $100 dollars on the Cavs on June 16th when their odds were 40 to 1 the pay out would have been $4000; now with James, you net $450 for the same sized bet.
Conversely, the Miami Heat’s odds to win the 2015 NBA Championship plummeted with Lebron James leaving town. Prior to the start of the free agent period, many believed Lebron James would return to the Heat; therefore, there wasn’t much value in picking the Heat as they were the favorites to win the championship next season. Despite retaining Bosh and expecting to keep Wade, along with the addition of Luol Deng, the Heat fell to 30 to 1 odds of winning it next year; that places them with the same odds as the New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies.
Surprisingly, the Los Angeles Lakers also had a spike in their odds to win a championship next season, from 40 to 1 prior to the start of free agency to 15 to 1 today.
While the Lakers were aggressive in their pursuit of the big name free agents, their pursuit failed. Instead, the Lakers settled by bringing back some of their own free agents such as Jordan Hill and Nick Young. Thus far, the only new acquisitions of note for the Lakers, are first round pick, Julius Randle, and Jeremy Lin who they acquired in trade from the Rockets; those additions combined with the expected return of Kobe Bryant has Vegas odds makers placing the Lakers as 8th best odds to win the 2015 NBA Championship. I know, that is striking but who are we to question Vegas odds makers? Looking at the big buildings and bright lights of Vegas, I think they’ve done pretty well for themselves and might know what they’re talking about.
– Fern Rea
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