The NBA futures odds in the Eastern Conference remain tilted toward the Cleveland Cavaliers, but after Tuesday’s big news day in the Association, the Toronto Raptors are back in business.
Just when you think you have the all answers, Masai Ujiri changes the questions. The president of the Toronto Raptors has pulled off yet another sweetheart of a deal; assuming all the paperwork goes through, the Raptors will send small forward Terrence Ross (0.0 BPM) and a 2017 first-rounder to the Orlando Magic in exchange for power forward Serge Ibaka (0.6 BPM). Oh my.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers have learned that All-Star power forward Kevin Love (+1.7 BPM) will miss the next six weeks after having his left knee scoped. This 1-2 combo throws the entire Eastern Conference playoff picture into disarray. The Cavs are still -300 faves to win the East on the NBA odds board at Bovada, but now the Raptors are an even bigger bargain at +1000 – and the other Eastern contenders have renewed hope, too.
A Little Lemon Twist
Power forward has been an issue for the Raptors, and it only got worse this year when free-agent acquisition Jared Sullinger (-8.1 BPM) broke his foot during the preseason. He's still working his way back into shape. Patrick Patterson (+0.9 BPM) has been missing games here and there with a balky knee, so Toronto needed help at the 4-spot.
Ibaka fits the bill. He's not the same elite defender he was a few years ago for the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he can still get the job done and he's shooting a career-high 38.8 percent from long range. The Raptors can afford to lose Ross; they have Norman Powell (-1.8 BPM) waiting in the wings and the draft pick in question will likely fall somewhere in the mid-20s. Ibaka could end up being a rental as a free-agent-to-be, but Toronto will have his Bird rights as he enters free agency. It's all good in the 6.
As for the Cavaliers, they've been a better NBA pick these past couple of weeks after stumbling toward the end of January, but now they'll be without one of their Big Three until close to playoff time. Will the Boston Celtics (+600) overtake them in the Eastern standings? How about the Raptors or even the Washington Wizards (+1000) or the Atlanta Hawks (+2800)? Even if Cleveland remains in first, health will be a major concern heading into the postseason. Buckle up, folks, it's going to be a wild ride.