James Harden is trying to force his way to Brooklyn, and folks in the legalized US sports gambling market are betting that it is going to lead to a championship if a trade comes to fruition.
The Nets’ NBA championship odds have been dropping in recent days as Harden has been pushing for a way to get to Brooklyn. It remains an open question as to whether Nets general manager Sean Marks will go out and get him.
The odds on the Nets winning the championship at FanDuel Sportsbook moved from +950 to +600 amid the trade talk, after the NBA trade market reopened for business Monday afternoon. Trades followed in rapid-fire fashion, with Chris Paul getting dealt from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Phoenix Suns, and the Milwaukee Bucks acquiring Jrue Holiday from New Orleans and Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Sacramento Kings to upgrade the supporting cast surrounding NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
2021 NBA title odds
Bucks and Nets the beasts of the East
FanDuel listed Milwaukee at +500 and Brooklyn at +600 to win the title Tuesday afternoon, behind only the Lakers at +330. The Clippers were the second choice in the Western Conference at +700, and the Golden State Warriors were next at +950 – one day before they are scheduled to pick second overall in the NBA Draft. If general manager Bob Myers chooses to trade the pick, which some think is likely, the odds for the title will take another drastic shift before the end of the week.
“The NBA trading window has opened, and the odds for the Brooklyn Nets have moved from +950 to +600 because of the usual hometown interest in the team from our New Jersey customers and because it’s a possible landing place for an unhappy James Harden,” said FanDuel Sportsbook spokesman Kevin Hennessy.
At BetMGM, the Bucks (+550) were only slightly favored over the Nets (+600), and at PointsBet, the Nets moved from +900 to +700 on Sunday, then to +600 on Monday, spokesman Patrick Eichner said. The Lakers, who were already favored to win the NBA title, dropped from +350 to +330 after acquiring Dennis Schröder from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Danny Green and a first round draft pick.
Not enough basketballs to go around in Brooklyn?
Harden rejected a $50 million per year extension with the Houston Rockets as he continues to try to force a trade to Brooklyn. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said there have been preliminary discussions between the teams, but nothing “substantial.”
There also is a legitimate question of whether Harden would be a great fit in Brooklyn, playing alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. And it behooves the Rockets to wait for the best possible offer that Brooklyn may want to make as the Nets may up the ante after the draft.
Nets bettors are not waiting, though.
“When we opened, we put the Nets at 14-1, then we lowered them to 10-1. So now we’ve moved them to 6-1,” said Jeff Sherman of Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. “The Nets and Warriors are easily our most frequently bet teams, and last night after the trades with New Orleans and Sacramento, we lowered the Bucks from 10-1 to 5-1. But I will flip the odds on the Bucks and the Nets if Harden ends up with the Nets.
“Right now the Lakers are the No. 1 most frequently bet team, the Warriors are No. 2 and Brooklyn is No. 3,” Sherman said.
Identifying teams that could make a splash
DraftKings Sportsbook listed Milwaukee at +500, with Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Clippers both at +600. The Lakers remained the overall favorite at +350.
“Whose position is going to get stronger? That’s what you have to look at,” said head oddsmaker at DraftKings, Johnny Avello – who also noted that none of the teams at the top of the NBA Draft Wednesday – with the exception of Golden State – was anywhere near being a championship contender.
An under-the-radar trade that improved one of the top teams in the West was the deal that sent Robert Covington from Houston to Portland for Trevor Ariza, but it did not incite any action on Portland, Sherman said.
“We’ve only taken two tickets on both Milwaukee and Portland. The Blazers tickets are for $10 and $2, and the Milwaukee tickets are for $10 and $25,” Sherman said. “Brooklyn and Golden State are pretty much what everyone is betting.”
Once the NBA Draft comes and goes on Wednesday night and several more trades are made, the lines will be moving again. The only question is which team(s) improve most significantly on what is annually one of the busiest trading nights in the league.