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Lakers 2011 Betting Favorites

The Lakers repeated as champs and Kobe Bryant added a fifth championship ring to his crowded hand. Can Bryant match Michael Jordan and pick up No. 6 in 2011? Oddsmakers like them and you'll see them listed as favorites shortly, with their young core locked up and Kobe leading the charge.

The 2011 NBA championship odds for next season could be one of the more difficult ones for the oddsmakers to handicap in quite a long time. How do you set up NBA championship futures for next season when you don't know where LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are going to be?

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The only given for the oddsmakers right now is that the Lakers will still be contenders and will likely be the team to beat again in 2011. None of the Lakers’ big names have free agency beckoning, so Los Angeles' star-studded lineup will remain intact. Bryant's drive for a sixth title will include Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Ron Artest. The only missing piece could be Phil Jackson if the guru decides he's had enough of coaching and calls it a career. After the Lakers there isn't much certainty in the NBA this offseason.

Even the Lakers’ NBA Finals opponents, the Celtics, don't know what they'll look like next season. Ray Allen's contract is up and Paul Pierce has the option to enter free agency. Rasheed Wallace has been rumored to be thinking about retirement, and so has Coach Doc Rivers. With the possibility of so much turnover on the court and on the sidelines the Celtics’ run as one of the top teams in the NBA could be over.

The difference between who will be real contenders and who will be pretenders next season will likely depend on where the big free agents land. Cleveland will likely go from best record in the NBA to missing the playoffs if LeBron leaves town. Whichever team lands LeBron would become a championship favorite overnight.

The Cavs are the frontrunners for King James according to the oddsmakers (Cavs at -150), but they haven't counted out the Bulls, Knicks, and Nets yet. Chicago is currently listed at +150, New York at +200, and the Nets at +400. The NBA free agency period begins on July 1 and the deals should come fast since no team wants to miss out on the biggest crop of stars ever.

Even if LeBron signs on the dotted line right away that will just be the start of the fireworks with Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, Dirk Nowitzki, Amar'e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and a number of other notable names able to leap to new teams.

Watch the NBA futures closely when they first appear because they could change quickly once July arrives.