Just about everyone had given up on the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. Most were under the impression that Steve Ballmer’s team was out of the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes.
But things change fast in the NBA as we all are learning Saturday, waking up to the news that not only have the Clippers agreed to terms with Leonard, they also are acquiring Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five first-round draft picks (along with two pick swaps).
Anyone who was privy to Paul George’s desire to be dealt to the Clippers so that he could team up with Leonard had the opportunity to wager on them at +3500 (35-1) to win the 2019-20 championship at FanDuel Sportsbook on Friday.
Gotta wonder whether Billy Crystal is having the last laugh.
How this shakes up the futures betting markets
We are now one week into one of the most hectic free agency spendathons in NBA history, and we now have a franchise that has usurped the Brooklyn Nets as the biggest winners of the offseason. Yes, getting Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant was fantastic … but Durant may not play next season, so the dividends from that deal may be two years away. Brooklyn is 22-1 to win the title next year, tied for fourth-lowest odds, at DraftKings. The Nets are 23-1 at FanDuel.
But back to the Clippers. There was an air of mystery when Patrick Beverley turned down bigger offers from other teams in order to stay with Los Angeles, so maybe he knew of this blockbuster possibility. The Clippers are now deep at both guard sports (reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams is still around, and Landry Shamet was kept out of the OKC deal that landed George), have Lakers castoff Ivica Zubac and sturdy backup Montrezl Harrell at center, Leonard and George at the forward spots, and Mo Harkless (part of the Jimmy Butler deal) backing the two of them up.
The Lakers lost out on the Kawhi sweepstakes, but they did add Danny Green from the defending champion Raptors and re-signed center JaVale McGee. That has made them the second choice to win the NBA title (+480 at DraftKings and +375 at FanDuel), while the Thunder’s odds have dropped to 60-1 and 65-1 — and perhaps will drop even lower now that word is out that Russell Westbrook was shopped to Toronto.
The rest of the West
Contrarians who believe the Utah Jazz are being overlooked (they acquired Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis, Jeff Green and Emmanual Mudiay) still have a chance to back their team at +1600 (FD) or 1+1800 (DK).
As for the team that entered the NBA Finals as big favorites, Steph Curry and the remnants of his Warriors are still drawing respect from the oddsmakers at +1200.
For those who believe Leonard will have an MVP season, he is on the board at +1100 at FanDuel and +700 and at DraftKings. George, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, is among the top 10 MVP candidates on both sites.