The 2018 NBA Finals are still taking place, with the Golden State Warriors holding a 1-0 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. That said, it’s no surprise that our GTBets futures have Golden State at -1700 to win the title.
But some of the major Las Vegas sportsbooks are already looking ahead to the 2018-19 NBA season.
Not surprisingly, the Golden State Warriors have opened as 2019 favorites at +125. Their core of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green will be intact for yet another potential title run.
The Houston Rockets check in with the second best odds at +350. They pushed Golden State to seven games and may have won if not for an injury to starting point guard Chris Paul.
The Philadelphia 76ers are tied with Houston for the second-best futures odds at +350. This is somewhat surprising when considering that Philly was knocked out of the second round by Boston. The Sixers have a strong young core in Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and Markelle Fultz. Plus, they have a chance to sign LeBron James n the offseason.
“When you have LeBron in free agency, you have to be careful,” said Westgate SuperBook oddsmaker John Murray.
“You’ve got Philadelphia, Miami, the Lakers and even Houston as potential destinations [outside of Cleveland]. We cut all of those teams’ odds down, and we’ll raise back up the teams he doesn’t sign with.”
Boston Celtics, LA Lakers Lead the Rest of the Pack in 2019 NBA Futures
The Boston Celtics open with the fourth-best championship odds at +800. Boston pushed LeBron James and the Cavs to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, despite not having Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. They could possibly be undervalued when considering how well they did without their two best players.
The biggest surprise in the 2019 NBA futures is that the L.A. Lakers are tied with the Miami Heat for fifth at +2000.
The Lakers finished 35-47 and don’t currently offer any reason to suspect that they’re destined for greatness. But LA is one of the favorites to land both James and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George in free agency.
“We like some of the younger players on the Lakers and think there’s a pretty good chance they get Paul George,” said Murray.
“They’d draw a lot of action and probably would have the third-best odds in the West behind Houston and Golden State if LeBron went there. Without him, they’d probably be in the 60-1 [+6000] to 80-1 [+8000] range.”
Miami finished 44-38 and made the postseason. But they were quickly bounced in the first round by the Sixers. Their odds are higher than many other teams because they’re dark-horse favorites to land LeBron.
Lakers Odds Reflect Cavaliers’ Rise in 2014 Offseason
The Lakers having such high odds due to free agency rumors is nothing new. The Cleveland Cavaliers saw a similar increase in their futures amid rumors that LeBron James was leaving the Heat to join the Cavs. Cleveland, which finished 33-49 the season before, saw their odds move from +4000 to +300 after James signed.
Another incident like this happened in 2016, when Kevin Durant was rumored to leave Oklahoma City to play for Golden State. Vegas sportsbooks saw a flurry of betting activity on the Warriors at between +300 and +150. The Warriors would open the season at -150 after the Durant signing.
As for Cleveland now, they’re currently sitting at +3000. The Cavs aren’t the lead favorite to re-sign James this offseason. And if he leaves, Murray sees Cleveland’s odds falling to around 50,000.