Even though it was considered a slam-dunk that LaMarcus Aldridge would sign with the San Antonio Spurs, the NBA odds moved aggressively once he made his decision.
In case you needed further proof that the NBA futures market is loaded with public money, we give you the curious case of LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs. The overwhelming buzz during this period of trades and free-agent signings was that Aldridge would almost certainly leave the Portland Trail Blazers and ink a contract with San Antonio. It was considered a fait accompli long before it happened – which won't be official until this Thursday.
Apparently not everyone got the memo. The NBA odds did move slightly in San Antonio's favor last week, up from 9-1 to 8-1 on the championship futures market at Bovada. But it wasn't until Aldridge made his decision public that the market really started churning. The Spurs leapfrogged into a tie for second place with the Golden State Warriors at 9-2, behind the favored Cleveland Cavaliers at 11-4. Talk about arriving late for a party.
There's more where that came from. Not only did the Spurs land Aldridge; on Monday, they were also able to sign former Indiana Pacers PF David West to a one-year deal at the veteran's minimum of $1.5 million. Clearly West is serious about winning a title – he would have made $12 million this year if he had stuck with the Pacers. As we go to press, the Spurs are now alone in second on the NBA odds list at 3-1, ahead of Golden State at 5-1.
It's easy to love what San Antonio has been able to accomplish this summer. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green re-signed with the team. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili decided to return. Now Aldridge and West are about to join them. The Spurs couldn't keep everybody: Tiago Splitter (Atlanta Hawks), Cory Joseph (Toronto Raptors), Marco Belinelli (Sacramento Kings) and Aron Baynes (Detroit Pistons) all have new employers. But there's still enough depth left over for San Antonio to keep its core rotation fresh for the playoffs. Brilliant.
I Leave L.A.
Aldridge wasn't the only big-name player on the move. DeAndre Jordan left the Los Angeles Clippers to sign a max deal with the Dallas Mavericks, who then improved from 33-1 to 22-1 on the championship futures market. At least there's still some betting value with Big D; Wesley Matthews (Portland) and Jeremy Evans (Utah Jazz) are also heading for Dallas, while Tyson Chandler (Phoenix Suns), Monta Ellis (Indiana), Rajon Rondo (Sacramento) and Al-Farouq Aminu (Portland) are all out the door. Definitely an upgrade for the Mavs.
With Marc Gasol deciding to stay with the Memphis Grizzlies on a max deal, that takes care of all the major free agents – except for one. LeBron James has yet to sign with the Cavaliers. He's biding his time, apparently to ensure the Cavs make some positive moves toward winning that elusive title. Things are moving quite well on that front with the re-signing of Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert, and Monday's announcement that Mo Williams (Charlotte Hornets) will be returning to Cleveland. Joe Johnson (Brooklyn Nets) or Jamal Crawford (Clippers) could be on the way, too.
Not every team can win the title, of course. Some teams farther down the NBA odds list have made improvements that could make them worth a look next year when you're making your basketball picks against the spread. A special tip of the hat to Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, who was able to pounce on Joseph (a Toronto native) when the Spurs renounced his rights to free up cap space for Aldridge and Green.
How did the marketplace react? It didn't – the Raptors are still 40-1 to win the title. But with Joseph, DeMarre Carroll (Atlanta) and Bismack Biyombo (Charlotte) replacing Greivis Vasquez (Milwaukee Bucks), Lou Williams (Los Angeles Lakers) and Amir Johnson (Boston Celtics), Toronto is in much better shape to beat the basketball odds next year. Believe in Masai.