NBA Free Agency Futures: LeBron James and the Kingdom of Choices
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports, Pictured: LeBron James
- The Summer of Lebron (and his impending free agency) is now upon us.
- Reports suggest the Lakers and Cavs are the frontrunners to sign the four-time MVP.
- The latest information points to several futures betting opportunities.
With an eye on the King’s impending free agency that begins (officially) July 1 at 12:00 a.m., here’s a look at potential futures ramifications. We also examine bets to target early — and ones to wait on.
Keep an eye on:
Lakers division title odds
Pacers division title odds
Warriors title odds
You may not have heard of this talented, versatile wing from Akron, Ohio, but believe me, he’s going to make a big impact on the league. OK, so you may be at least somewhat familiar with the arguable co-GOAT and best player of his generation, the four-time MVP, three-time NBA champion LeBron James.
The latest reports from multiple outlets are that James’ options are down to the Lakers and Cavs. Philadelphia is hanging on, and a dark horse candidate is within reason, but almost all the reporting focuses on Los Angeles and Cleveland.
And speaking of the Cavs… from The Athletic…
The unnerving part for Cavs fans should be how similar this feels to 2010 and even 2014. James distanced himself from the organization during the summer of 2010 when he ultimately chose to leave. Team personnel were unable to reach him that summer to consult him on what he wanted. Similarly, Pat Riley was reportedly frustrated with James in ’14 when he seemed distant and disengaged during their conversation in Las Vegas at the start of free agency. Days later, James was gone.
The Cavs have tried unsuccessfully to engage James this summer, according to multiple sources. He has again left Paul to handle all of his communication. James has been much more proactive in past summers working with the Cavs than he has been since the Finals ended in a sweep. He recruited for the Cavs in past summers, from calling Kevin Love to join him the summer he returned to pursuing Jamal Crawford last summer. The Cavs disagreed with him on Crawford and signed Cedi Osman instead.
Yikes. Woof. Sheesh, even.
In related news:
UPDATED NBA Free Agency props (via @DaveMasonBOL )
Lebron James: Field -550 / @cavs +375
Kawhi Leonard: Field -400 / @spurs +300
Chris Paul: @HoustonRockets -350 / Field +260
Kemba Walker: @hornets -350 / Field +260
— Todd Fuhrman (@ToddFuhrman) June 29, 2018
Being able to still get “Not the Cavs” seems pretty attractive as an investment.
James’ decision to not opt in for next season with Cleveland, reported by multiple outlets Friday, eliminates several key teams. He could still join Houston or Boston, but such a move would require them to dump salary of players that they would need.
If James goes to the Lakers, the odds are very high that either Paul George or Kawhi Leonard joins Los Angeles as well. And in that instance, even with questionable depth built around young guys or minimum-level vets, and even with the adjustment period super combos usually take, the Lakers’ division title odds are great here.
“But they’re in the Pacific with the Warriors!” you say.
Yes, the Warriors, who barely cared about the regular season and still won the title anyway. The Warriors, who are constantly exhausted. The Warriors, whose supporting cast will be another year older. The Warriors, who could be plagued by injuries again next year, even if not as drastically as this season.
You’ll likely get a big plus number on the Lakers’ division title odds when they’re released. Forget the championship. The Warriors still beat any conceivable model of that team. Plus, you can hedge your division title with Warriors title odds, which likely become even sweeter with the action LA would generate.
If James returns to the Cavs, I’d still stay away from their division odds. They very nearly lost the division to Indiana this year, and the Pacers will probably improve. The Cavs might pull some rabbits out of a hat, but if they don’t radically alter things by the end of the month, Indiana will probably still get plus money odds and might be a better team.
If he joins the Sixers, stay away from Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference odds. Boston will be a dynamo, and Philadelphia will be super powerful, albeit new and young. It’s rail thin, and you can get better odds later.
As I broke down here, the Sixers’ under win total will be one to keep an eye out for as well if he joins Philadelphia.