The fireworks began a few days early this month, as a pair of league-shaking free agent signings shuffled the NBA heading into next season.
On July 1, all-planet superstar LeBron James decided to take his talents to Los Angeles, where he’ll don the iconic purple and gold as a Laker. The westward move wasn’t exactly a surprise, as most free agency prognosticators pegged James to hit Hollywood after news broke that his son had enrolled at an elite local prep school.
Even so, the best basketball player on the planet becoming a Laker is always big news – especially because it seems to happen once every decade or so.
Fans, fellow players, and online sportsbooks like Bet365 all began scrambling to interpret what LBJ’s latest decision would mean for the Western Conference – where the Golden State Warriors have lorded over the field for the last four years. And according to Bet365’s latest futures betting board for the 2019 NBA Finals, the Warriors now have company when it comes to contenders.
The Lakers now sit at (+750) to win their 17th NBA title in franchise history, offering the second-best odds in the West alongside the Houston Rockets.
Houston re-signed point guard Chris Paul during the offseason to keep last year’s squad – which pushed the Warriors to Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals – largely intact. But they’ll need to do much more to compete with a Laker team that is widely expected to lure Kawhi Leonard away from the San Antonio Spurs (+5000) to form L.A.’s latest super-team.
To gauge just how important James’ arrival in Tinsel Town will be, consider that the Lakers opened at (+10000) at this time in 2018.
As for the Warriors, general manager Bob Meyers is no stranger to reloading already stacked rosters, having hired on Kevin Durant in 2016 to key the team’s last two championships. With that successful experiment in mind, Meyers countered the Lakers’ salvo by signing All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins away from the New Orleans Pelicans (+7000).
The man known as “Boogie” wasn’t dancing all that much last year, suffering a torn Achilles tendon that ended his season prematurely. With uncertainty about that injury still lingering, Meyers swooped in and signed Cousins to a bargain basement one-year deal.
Head coach Steve Kerr will likely settle on a stamina-saving rotation that seldom sees all five on the floor at the same time, but Golden State now boasts a core five of Steph Curry, Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Cousins. With those five in the fold, the Warriors will feature five All-Stars from the previous season in their lineup – a first since the Boston Celtics of 1975-76.
Curry and the Dubs have beaten James for the NBA title in three out of the last four seasons, sending him from the Cleveland Cavaliers (+8000) to L.A. looking for a reset. But one day after “The King” broke the internet with his announcement, basketball’s reigning royalty re-upped in typically ruthless fashion.
As such, Bet365 has Golden State as massive (-175) favorites to notch their first Finals threepeat. And outside of the Lakers and Rockets, the only team offering better than 10 to 1 on the upset bid is the Boston Celtics (+600).
While the focus is understandably on the Warriors and their quest for a fourth NBA title in five years, you can see how the NBA’s 29 challengers stack up according to Bet365’s current futures board below:
2019 NBA Title Odds on Bet365
|Team||2019 NBA Title Odds on 7/3/18|
|Golden State Warriors||-175|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+750|
|San Antonio Spurs||+5000|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+5500|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+7000|
|New York Knicks||+9000|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+10000|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+12500|