NBA Free Agency Update
This year’s NBA free agent frenzy has felt like all Miami, all the time, hasn’t it? The Heat retained D-Wade, signed LeBron, signed Bosh, signed Big Z, signed Mike Miller...you get the picture. And you probably understand that the Miami Heat have rocketed to the top of every NBA futures odds list at every sportsbook.
But there was more to this summer’s free agency than just the Heat. Which other teams have significantly altered their NBA championship odds?
Chicago Bulls 15/1
Check most books today and, believe it or not, you’ll find the Bulls among the top five favorites to win the title next year – often ahead of Boston. The Bulls already had a solid young core to build around with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng. But adding Carlos Boozer at forward just makes them that much more dangerous. The Bulls made several other depth acquisitions. Both C.J. Watson and Kyle Korver are excellent long-range shooters and Ronnie Brewer will make for a nice swingman. The Bulls have a solid shot to finish second in the Eastern Conference.
New York Knicks 35/1
Sportsbooks aren’t going crazy over the Knicks; they still only rank their NBA futures odds around the middle of the pack. But the perception is that Amar’e Stoudemire will be the man to take New York back into the postseason. He won’t do it alone; the Knicks also signed the underrated Raymond Felton and swapped David Lee in a blockbuster deal that landed them blue-chipper Anthony Randolph. As much as people love to hate the Knicks, wouldn’t it be nice to see meaningful basketball back in the Mecca? Spike Lee would agree.
Milwaukee Bucks 40/1
The team that sneaked up on the Eastern Conference last season may play louder basketball this season. Retaining top scorer John Salmons and signing Drew Gooden were the key free-agency moves for Milwaukee. But the biggest splash came when the Bucks acquired Corey Maggette via trade. He may not be the league’s most complete player, but he’s a good athlete and will add nice complementary offense to Salmons, Andrew Bogut, and Brandon Jennings. Don’t look now – but will the Bucks be one of the East’s highest-scoring teams?
Utah Jazz 30/1
It wasn’t a signing per se, but the Al Jefferson trade saved the Utah Jazz’s offseason and kept them in the NBA championship favorites top 10 at sportsbooks. He fills the void left by Boozer but, at a younger age, makes for a better long-term building block. The Jazz should be a force again next season.
Cleveland Cavaliers 60/1
Altering your NBA Finals odds doesn’t necessarily mean for the better. Bettors will be hard pressed to find a team whose futures crashed more dramatically from one season to the next – ever. The Cavs were regularly a top-two or top-three team at sportsbooks during the LeBron era. Now, with the cupboard totally bare in what is now a heartbroken city, the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves at rock bottom.
At most sportsbooks, no team has lower odds to win the championship than the Cavs at the moment. Even the lowly Nets, Raptors, Timberwolves, and Kings have significantly higher chances according to oddsmakers. It’s hard to argue against that logic considering that Mo Williams is now their centerpiece. At least he’ll finally get a chance to prove that he’s a legitimate All-Star