Things are about to get interesting.
The NBA free agent signing period opens up on Sunday, July 1. While Golden State realistically should be the favorite to hoist another Larry O’Brien trophy (and three-peat) in 2018-19, that isn’t stopping some potentially crazy line movement at Las Vegas sportsbooks over the next week.
It’s all about LeBron
Just like 2010 and 2014, the futures market all hinges on LeBron James’ decision.
Most pundits think LeBron is heading to either the LA Lakers or staying put for one more year with the Cavs.
More importantly, though, what does Vegas think?
The Westgate in Las Vegas has already dropped LA Lakers title odds from 20-1 to 8-1 just on the mere chance that LeBron chooses purple and gold.
The Westgate is hedging Cleveland at 12-1, a fair price given the will-he-stay-or-will-he-go reading of the tea leaves with LeBron right now.
However just like little Bronny’s attempted dunk, LeBron choosing only between the Lakers or Cavs is no sure thing.
The Westgate rightfully has Philadephia (14-1) and Houston (+450) as title hopefuls pending LeBron’s decision.
Given the talent on Philly and the fact Houston was probably a Chris Paul hamstring injury away from winning it all this year, there is good pre-Decision value in those odds.
What happens post-decision?
The Westgate expects heavy public money pounding the Lakers if LeBron opts for the purple & gold. LA’s title odds will drop to 6-1 if LeBron goes all by himself to team up with Lonzo Ball & Co. If Paul George (5-1) and Kawhi Leonard plus George (+250) team up in LA with LeBron, the futures drop even further.
Interestingly, if LeBron stays in Cleveland, they only go from 12-1 to 10-1.
Philly goes to +250 (from 14-1) if LeBron becomes a 76er. Houston becomes a +140 title favorite, which would likely get bet down to Even odds fairly quickly.
Buckle up. It’s LeBron’s world, and we’re all just betting in it.