Lakers 2019 Futures Improve Greatly with LeBron James Signing

lebron-james-lakersThe L.A. Lakers were hardly expected to compete for the 2018-19 NBA championship going into the offseason. After all, they were a young team coming off a 35-win season.

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

lakers-2019-futuresYou 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.

Sixers Open 2019 NBA Futures at +350 Odds

joel-embiid-sixers-starThe 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

kyrie-irving-celticsThe 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.