In one of the more shocking revelations in NBA sports history, after four straight NBA Finals appearances and two titles to show for it, Lebron James has decided to head back home to Cleveland to join the Cavaliers. Let the fallout begin.
Cavs jump to favorites for the NBA Title
The discussion about the league ramifications surrounding Lebron’s move home are huge but the NBA Odds ramifications are just as big. Right after James announced his decision, Bovada Sportsbook released their 2014-2015 NBA Future Odds, and right at the top are the Cavs sitting at +400. They are above the Spurs at +500 and the Thunder at +600. The Heat? They have moved all the way down to +5000 next season to win the championship, and it’s looking like they could be one of the worst teams in the East next season because of it.
Since James is moving on, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Chris Bosh will now take his max offer with the Rockets and take a page from Lebron’s book and return home to Texas. This immediately turns the Heat into a lottery team, and it may take a long time to rebuild from a loss like this.
NBA Fallout and Cavs’ prospects
Now that Lebron has made a decision, it’s going to be a fast and furious weekend of NBA news and signings. However with Lebron going to Cleveland, the speculation surrounding the Cavs is going to grow even higher. Assuming James takes max money, there are a lot of different directions the team could go to put a contender around him.
Obviously Kyrie Irving is untouchable. He is probably the reason Lebron left in the first place. Even though Bosh and Dwyane Wade are still very good players, Irving’s current talent level, upside and youth make him a much better teammate for the next four to five years than Bosh and Wade would have been. The Cavs also of course have the last two #1 picks in Anthony Bennett and now Andrew Wiggins. Will these guys be big parts of a championship in Cleveland within the next few seasons, or will they be used as trade bait to bring in another star?
My guess is that hasn’t been decided yet. The big rumor that’s now going to be coming around is one that broke yesterday regarding Kevin Love potentially being traded to the Cavs now. Cleveland not only has the assets but they have the ability to pitch playing with the best player in the world, something that might convince Love to agree to the trade, and maybe even agree to sign an extension in Cleveland.
Teams are weary that trading for Love might only be a one-year accomplishment, as he can opt out of his current deal after the 2014-2015 season. However playing with James might convince Love that he should stay with the Cavs if indeed Cleveland gives up the assets to get him. They would almost certainly have to give up Wiggins and Bennett, along with maybe a few other prospects or picks. Would the Cavs do that, or just wait this year and try to sign Love for nothing other than a lot of money next summer? The latter may be a more plausible scenario, unless the Wolves’ price for Love drops significantly.
Can Cavs win it all in 2014-2015?
While they are almost surely going to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, I don’t know if the Cavs can win it all this season. Even in his essay in Sports Illustrated (which was how the news was broken) James noted, “I’m not promising a championship. We’re not ready right now. No way.”
If it’s coming right from James, maybe he is a realist, because unless they somehow pull off getting Love over from the Wolves in the next four months, I don’t think the Cavaliers can win the title this season and won't choose them for a NBA pick anytime soon. The Bulls are still going to be very good if Derrick Rose is healthy, and the Pacers, Raptors and Nets will all still be right there.
I’m in no way saying it’s not going to happen right away, but at +400, the sportsbooks are overvaluing the Cavs right now. They are doing it because they know every Cleveland fan is running to their computer or calling their local sports bookie trying to take the Cavs as their sports pick to win it all next season. Don’t be a square, folks. That is the only reason why Cleveland is the favorite. I would entertain the argument that they are the best team in the East as currently constructed, but they aren’t better than the Spurs or Thunder right now. There are too many young players with zero playoff experience on this team to believe they could win the East AND beat one of the West’s elite after just one season together. I think their window opens in 2015-2016, unless of course Love comes over this year.