LeBron James' return to the Cavaliers has led to a series of dominos falling all across the league and affecting the NBA odds for the upcoming season. Cleveland now replaces South Beach as the hip place to play hoop.
Cleveland's Odds Plummet
The Cavaliers started the offseason as an afterthought in sports bettors' minds. As a matter of fact, they were an afterthought even during the season but punters who wanted a longshot in NBA odds could target Cleveland at 60-1 and hope for the best. Well those brave souls who went where others feared to tread were rewarded handsomely as the biggest free agent in history returned humbled and repentant. Seriously, could you ask for anything more, you long suffering Cavaliers' fans?
Oh, and as the whispers about the King's return began to mount, the NBA odds continued to drop. Odds of 60-1 became 50-1, then 30-1, and earlier this week, when Cleveland was narrowed down as the only other destination besides Miami to vie for James' talents, Vegas and the offshores tried to get ahead of "The Decision 2" by reducing their odds even further to 10-1.
But now LeBron has made his intentions known and the Cleveland Cavaliers are now the NBA betting odds favorites at 4-1 followed by defending champions San Antonio (5-1) and Oklahoma City (6-1). Yet, those who were convinced that Miami would ultimately retain LeBron's services and the "dynasty" would continue now know exactly how the guy who invested all his money in the payphone business felt shortly after cell phones came into vogue. Miami's odds of winning the NBA championship tumbled all the way from 9-2 to 50-1, however with Chris Bosh re-committing to the Heat, those odds have been slashed to a more reasonable 16-1.
Big Love for Cleveland?
As if this offseason couldn't get any better for Cleveland: Andrew Wiggins tabbed as the number one overall pick, Kyrie Irving inks a long-term deal and LeBron eschews the beautiful people in Miami for the haggard faces in the 2-1-6, rumors are swirling that Minnesota's Kevin Love would welcome a deal to become part of the King's court.
That's like winning a Lamborghini and then being told that the buxom blonde model is part of the package. If Love does find his way to Cleveland, do we simply cancel the 2014-2015 season and hand the NBA title to the Cavaliers? I mean, why go through the formalities?
2010's Decision Reaps Huge Rewards in 2014
LeBron just wants to be loved and the immediate repercussions in Cleveland after he publically spurned them for fun in the sun in Miami actually took him by surprise. Of course, he knew the Cavaliers and their fans would be disappointed - but angry...at him? Nobody gets angry at LeBron unless they happen to be playing for the opposing team, but he soon found out that basketball fans throughout his home state were seething and owner Dan Gilbert galvanized those feelings in a scathing open letter to fans of Cleveland everywhere.
However, LeBron's decision to take his talents to South Beach turned out to be the best possible scenario for the Cavs even if they didn't know it at the time. During his tenure in Cleveland, LeBron James was surrounded by supporting actors like Larry Hughes, Mo WIlliams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas who were decent role players but by no means leading men like Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. James took this perennially failing franchise to new heights, but couldn't quite get over the top, and any infusion of young blood was limited to late in the first round due to their success with LeBron at the helm.
But once James left, the losses came, but so did the high draft picks. And when you look at the core of young talent assembled in Cleveland like Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett and this year's number one overall Andrew Wiggins, it is clear this team is built for the long haul. Now all that young talent had to appeal to LeBron James and was unquestionably a factor in getting him back into the fold. That talent would never have arrived if the King had continued to hold court in Cleveland with talent good enough to keep the Cavs contending, but not quite good enough to see them winning it all. And if Kevin Love ever does make his way into a Cavaliers uniform, this may in fact be the dynasty LeBron (and those making NBA picks) dreamed of all along.