How Free Agency Has Changed the NBA Futures Betting Odds

Jason Lake

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 1:59 PM GMT

So LeBron James ended up going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Who are the new favorites on top of the NBA futures odds list? The Cleveland Cavaliers. But they sure don’t look like a championship team – yet.

Consternation and uproar~! LeBron James went back to the same Cleveland Cavaliers who kicked his ass on the way out. Not a lot of people were expecting that – at least, not until the last few days leading up to The Decision Part Deux, which came out on Friday. People started betting up the Cavs in anticipation as 25-1 long shots (or longer) on the 2014-15 NBA championship futures market. Online sportsbooks like Bodog and Bovada responded by closing their futures and waiting for further news, just in case.

Smart move. Now that James is back in Cleveland, everybody and his degenerate dog wants to bet on the Cavaliers, and they’ve leapt to the top of the NBA odds list at 7-2. The Miami Heat, meanwhile, have switched roles with the Cavs, going from next year’s favorites to third-tier outsiders at 25-1. Guess where the basketball betting value lies in this dynamic?

Trading Places
Hint: It’s not with the Cavaliers. They don’t have as much quality surrounding James as his former Miami team did – the one that went to the NBA Finals each of the past four seasons. But everyone’s waiting for the other shoe to drop, and the other shoe is named Kevin Love. His name has been attached to the Cavs, and if they’re willing to ship No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Love (26.9 PER) could end up forming a new Big Three with James (29.3 PER) and Kyrie Irving (20.1 PER). A new and better Big Three. If this happens, it would make a betting pick at current odds a very profitable wager.

As for the Heat, all is not lost on South Beach. They’ve still got Dwyane Wade (22.0 PER), who despite reports to the contrary is not all washed-up just yet. And they managed to sign Chris Bosh (19.0 PER) to a max deal. He’ll be the new focus of the Heat offense; once upon a time, Bosh was a 20-and-10 guy for the Toronto Raptors, and he put up a 25.0 PER in his last season there before moving to Miami. Add Luol Deng (15.2 PER) for defense and Josh McRoberts (13.8 PER) as a stretch-4, plus Shabazz Napier at the point, and you’ve got more than just a third-tier contender in the East.

 

Why Do They Run?
Once James was ticketed for Cleveland, the NBA free agent carousel went into overdrive, and sure enough, Carmelo Anthony (24.4 PER) decided to take the money and remain with the New York Knicks. Here’s another team that could contend in the East, even though the Knicks have only moved up from 40-1 to 33-1 on the basketball futures. Phil Jackson has brought some balance to the roster around ‘Melo by sending Tyson Chandler (16.4 PER) and Ray Felton (12.9 PER) to the Dallas Mavericks for a package including Jose Calderon (15.2 PER) and Samuel Dalembert (16.8 PER). Another smart move.

As usual, Dallas was very active on the free agent market, signing Chandler Parsons (15.9 PER) away from the Houston Rockets, who then turned to Trevor Ariza (15.8 PER) to fill that small forward spot. The Mavs are still stuck on that third tier at 33-1, but Houston has moved up from 16-1 to 10-1; the Rockets aren’t done dealing after sending Jeremy Lin (14.3 PER) to the Los Angeles Lakers in a cap-clearing move. Will Rajon Rondo (15.3 PER) land in Houston?

There’s one other major free agent signing that has gone relatively unnoticed. The Chicago Bulls were able to lure Pau Gasol (19.3 PER) away from the Lakers – not that Gasol needed much coaxing. The Bulls also managed to convince power forward Nikola Mirotic to leave Real Madrid and sign for three years at over $17 million total. Chicago has since jumped up from 12-1 to third-favorite status at 13-2 as NBA Futures betting picks, but that might be overly optimistic. Lord knows what the Bulls are going to get out of Derrick Rose (9.7 PER) this year. Let’s just hope he finishes the season with both legs still attached.