Oddsmakers Still Not Very High on Thunder After Paul George Trade

Matthew Jordan

Monday, July 3, 2017 4:20 PM UTC

Monday, Jul. 3, 2017 4:20 PM UTC

NBA free agency is ongoing with players able to officially sign with teams later this week. However, the biggest winner thus far has been Oklahoma City because of a shocking trade and not a free-agent signing.

West Gets Stronger As East Weakens

The Western Conference continues to get much stronger and the East much weaker. That’s what I take from the free-agent moves and trades since the NBA draft. The Chicago Bulls were a playoff team last year but surely won’t be after trading All-Star Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves also landed former Pacers and Hawks point guard Jeff Teague after trading Ricky Rubio to Utah. Minnesota should be a playoff team now and is currently +2000 to win the Western Conference on BetOnline NBA odds.

Atlanta was a playoff team last year but won’t be in 2018 after trading away Dwight Howard and losing All-Star forward Paul Millsap to Denver on a three-year, $90 million deal. Adding the underrated Millsap to young players like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris should make the Nuggets a playoff team in 2018.

The Sacramento Kings have offered Wizards forward Otto Porter a max deal, although Washington has said that it planned to match any deal for the restricted free agent. However, if Porter were to leave, that sets the Wizards back a bit.

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The biggest name to shift conferences was Pacers All-Star forward Paul George being traded to Oklahoma City for the very underwhelming return of guard Victor Oladipo and second-year big man Domantas Sabonis. That deal has been panned around the NBA for Indiana, while Thunder GM Sam Presti looks brilliant in adding a star alongside reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook. Indiana was a playoff team last year and probably isn’t now.

George had been linked to several teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets. Cleveland reportedly had worked something out with Indiana but then new Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard changed his mind.

The trade does carry some risk because it’s widely known that George wants to go play for his hometown Lakers when he his free agency next season. Westbrook also can become a free agent and is from L.A. Oddsmakers still don’t consider the Thunder as legitimate threats to win the West as they are +2500. Golden State (-325) still stands for apart from anyone else.

There are potentially two more dominoes to fall that could boost the West even more. The Knicks still want to trade Carmelo Anthony even though the team got rid of team president Phil Jackson. If Anthony were to join good buddy Chris Paul and James Harden in Houston, the Rockets would immediately see their odds shorten from the current +600 to win the West (same as Spurs). The Cavaliers also want Anthony.

Finally, Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is the biggest-name free agent on the board. He met over the weekend with the Celtics (Brad Stevens was his college coach) and Miami Heat. Hayward was to meet with the Jazz on Monday and should have a decision by Tuesday or Wednesday. He would help Boston (+350 to win the East) close the gap on Cleveland (-150). You can be sure that the Celtics and Heat are selling him on coming to the East and having a much better chance of reaching the NBA Finals than playing in the same conference as the Warriors. Utah is +2500 to win the West and those odds was get longer if Hayward does leave.

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