An unexpectedly busy NBA trade deadline on Thursday has altered title odds in Las Vegas, but sportsbooks believe the inaction of the defending champion Golden State Warriors only further solidifies their position as the favorites to win their third championship in four years.
The struggling Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors’ foe that has battled Golden State in each of the previous three NBA Finals, did the most trade deadline moves.
The Cavs sent point guard Derrick Rose and forward Jae Crowder to the Utah Jazz, and guards Joe Johnson and Iman Shumptert to the Sacramento Kings, in exchange for guards Rodney Hood and George Hill.
Cleveland also shipped veteran Dwyane Wade back to Miami for a second-round draft pick, and unloaded point guard Isaiah Thomas and power forward Channing Frye to the Los Angeles Lakers for guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr.
Thomas and Crowder were both part of the Kyrie Irving deal, and were supposed to help the Cavs get back to the Finals for a fourth consecutive year. But after losing 14 of their last 22 games, Cleveland’s front office recognized change was needed in order to have any chance of making another deep playoff run.
Despite the Cavs’ roster moves, Las Vegas oddsmakers don’t believe there’s much hope of LeBron James delivering another title to “Believeland.”
The Westgate SuperBook lengthened Cleveland’s title odds from 10-1 to 12-1, while shortening the odds on both Golden State and the Houston Rockets. Neither of the two latter teams did any major trades this week, but the SuperBook cut their odds respectively from 2-5 and 5-1 to 1-2 and 3-1.
The Warriors’ 1-2 line mean oddsmakers feel there’s a nearly 67 percent chance they win the NBA Finals. A $100 bet on Golden State nets just $50 should they prevail.
An attractive bet might be the Boston Celtics. Irving’s new team is 40-16 and sits atop the Eastern Conference with the third-best record in the entire NBA behind only the Warriors and Rockets.
But the SuperBook has the Celtics at 14-1, longer than the Toronto Raptors (12-1), a team the currently sits behind Boston in the standings.
The Cavs are in their final year with James should the four-time MVP decide to leave after this season. But the trade deadline moves have seemingly satisfied the superstar for the time being.
“I think we became a younger team, more athletic. We added some more shooting as well. So, we’ll have to see how it meshes,” James explained. “I like the pieces that we have coming in.”
As for losing his close pal Wade, James jokingly stated that after 15 years in the league, the two decorated players understand the business. “It wasn’t tough. We see each other all the time, so get out of here, D-Wade.”
James’ new squad will have little time to become adjusted to one another. After a game tonight in Atlanta, the Cavs travel to Boston on Sunday, and then Oklahoma City next Tuesday.