The opening of the NBA's free agency period was met with some serious wheeling and dealing. But the NBA odds for who will win the title in 2016 have barely moved an inch.
Usually at this point in the summer, we're watching the NBA rumor mill and wondering which players might end up where in free agency. Heaven forbid we get caught in a situation like last year's, when LeBron James bolted from the Miami Heat and their NBA title odds plummeted from 3-1 to 25-1. At the same time, if you had the Cleveland Cavaliers at 33-1 before James took his talents away from South Beach, that almost turned into the ideal bargain-basement basketball pick.
This year's a little different. The NBA salary cap is going to skyrocket next summer, so teams are scrambling to sign players to relatively friendly long-term contracts. And many players have been willing to take what looks like big money now, rather than risk a debilitating injury while pursuing an even bigger contract under the new cap. Yet despite all the activity (and expected activity) at the start of this year's free-agent period, the NBA odds have remained fairly constant. For now.
Know Your Role
Keeping up with all this player movement as it happens is a Sisyphean task; by the time you read this, more big names will likely have changed teams. But here's a list of some of the biggest moves as we go to press:
Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons to Milwaukee Bucks)
Monta Ellis (Dallas Mavericks to Indiana Pacers)
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks to Phoenix Suns)
DeMarre Carroll (Atlanta Hawks to Toronto Raptors)
Amir Johnson (Toronto Raptors to Boston Celtics)
Paul Pierce (Washington Wizards to Los Angeles Clippers)
Aaron Afflalo (Portland Trail Blazers to New York Knicks)
These are all potentially key players in any rotation. However, none of them is a transcendent star who can move the basketball odds just by sneezing. For the most part, the biggest early free-agent signings saw players sticking with their former teams:
Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
Goran Dragic (Miami Heat)
Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks)
If any of these gentlemen had switched employers, we may have seen some more movement on the NBA futures market by now. There are still some major players out there looking for new deals – none bigger than James himself. But he's very much expected to remain with the Cavaliers, and other marquee names like Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies), Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) and Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) are almost certainly staying put.
There have been two minor moves on the NBA odds list that are worth our attention. The Hawks fell from 25-1 to 28-1 at Bovada after losing Carroll to the Raptors; we saw how Atlanta struggled last year when Carroll was out of the lineup or playing hurt. More interestingly, the Spurs have improved from 9-1 to 8-1. Clearly people have been reading our stuff.
At least they're aware that LaMarcus Aldridge is likely to bolt the Trail Blazers and sign with San Antonio. The situation on the ground is a bit different than when we last checked in; Tiago Splitter has already been traded to the Atlanta Hawks, clearing enough cap space for San Antonio to re-sign Danny Green. But there are other ways for the Spurs to bring Aldridge into the fold, including a sign-and-trade with Portland.
That leaves one major name out there whose departure could move the NBA odds: DeAndre Jordan. He's considered 50-50 at best to re-up with the Clippers, but there isn't one single team that Jordan has been firmly attached to on the rumor mill. The Dallas Mavericks? Maybe, but they're still stuck at 33-1 on the futures market. Let's see how everything plays out over the next week or so, and may the sphere be with you.