But then LeBron James signed a four-year, $154-million deal with the team. James, who’s been to the conference finals for eight consecutive seasons, is the superstar that L.A. needs to compete.
Even still, most fans and experts don’t expect the Lakers to give the defending champion Golden State Warriors a serious challenge. The Warriors return a core that’s gone 8-1 in the last two NBA Finals.
Meanwhile, L.A. features younger players like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart. This is certainly a promising group. Nevertheless, nobody expects them to compete for a championship right away.
The interesting thing, though, is that both online and land-based sportsbooks are suddenly giving Cleveland a very strong chance to go deep.
Lakers 2019 Championship Odds
Here’s a look at how our GTBets NBA futures stand as of now regarding the main contenders:
- Golden State Warriors -200
- Boston Celtics +550
- Houston Rockets +800
- L.A. Lakers +800
- Philadelphia 76ers +1300
- Oklahoma City Thunder +5000
- San Antonio Spurs +5000
- Toronto Raptors +5000
You can see that the Lakers are currently tied for the third best odds with Houston. The Rockets lost Trevor Ariza to free agency recently. But they also return most of a team that took Golden State to seven games.
LeBron and his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, knocked off Boston in seven games. But the Celtics had notable injuries in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
The teams that are behind the Lakers in odds also figure to be close competitors. But it does feel like L.A. currently has an edge over everybody outside of the top four.
Can the Lakers Really Win the 2019 NBA Title?
Normally, being tied for third in terms of odds would mean that you’re a serious threat to win the title. But the Golden State Warriors have made many contenders obsolete within the past few years.
The Warriors feature two perennial MVP candidates in Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, along with two more All-Stars in Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. They also bring Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and David West off the bench, all of whom might be starters on some teams.
Houston gave Golden State the toughest run that they’ve had within the past two years. The Rockets and Warriors went to seven games. But as you can see from the odds, Golden State is still widely regarded as the favorite.
LA should Improve Greatly
Even if the Lakers don’t emerge from the Western Conference this year, they have plenty of potential.
The roster can other improve from within — thanks to the young players — or it can improve through free agent signings and/or trades.
L.A. has enough cap space to sign at least one more max player. This could happen in the 2019 free agency period, or Magic Johnson could decide to make a trade.
Magic has previously said that he’s looking at a two-year plan with this team. They already have LeBron. Now they have a full season to elevate themselves to worthy contender status.