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Five things the 2020 NBA Championship odds are telling us

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USA TODAY Images

Five things the 2020 NBA Championship odds are telling us

While the Toronto Raptors lifting the Larry O'Brien Trophy signified the start of the offseason, the Anthony Davis to the Lakers trade proves that in the NBA, there’s no such thing as an offseason.

According to Tom Haberstroh, the national NBA Insider for NBC Sports, the Lakers should be the heavy favorites to win the title (see story). But what are the new NBA title odds telling us?

Here are five takeaways from what I think the oddsmakers at FanDuel are telling us about the league, and the eventual 2020 NBA champion.

1. The Sixers (11-to-1) will keep Jimmy Butler

The Sixers have the fifth-best odds to win the NBA title, third in the East, and are significantly ahead of the Boston Celtics (18-to-1), the team with the fourth-best odds in the East. I think this says a lot about what team oddsmakers think the Sixers will have next season, which the value indicates will include free agent Jimmy Butler.

Looking at the available free agents on the market, Butler is the only one that could keep the Sixers in this spot in the oddsmakers' minds. Should he go to the Lakers, or another team, the Sixers would have the current value closer to the Celtics to win the title. While Tobias Harris is a nice player, he doesn’t hae the same value as Butler. The oddsmakers are making an assumption that No. 23 will be back.

2. The Warriors (11-to-1) are underdogs, but you shouldn’t count them out

Don’t be so quick to write off the Golden State Warriors, who will be without Kevin Durant for the entire season, and perhaps Klay Thompson, too. Oddsmakers have them even with the Sixers with the fifth-best odds in the NBA to win the title.

First of all, Steph Curry — a very good basketball player — returns alongside Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala and you’ve already got a formidable trio. Should Thompson return, now you’ve got four players that nearly won the 2019 title themselves. 

Perhaps KD was already going to leave anyway, so his injury could be more symbolic, but it would be unwise to write the Warriors off just yet. 

3. Kawhi is probably going to the Clippers

This reminds me of last offseason when each of the LeBron James suitors had elevated odds, just in case he were to land there. First of all, the Raptors enter the offseason with the third-best odds to repeat at 5.5-to-1, which makes me think that the bookmakers want to keep the Raptors high enough so that no one bets on them before Leonard decides. I have absolutely no interest in the Raptors at the third-best odds without Leonard, but they seem fairly placed in that spot with him. If you like the Raptors to repeat, just wait to see what Kawhi does because their odds won’t move much, if at all, if he stays.

The Clippers, on the other hand, come in seventh-best at 12-to-1 and are elevated given the chance they will land the NBA Finals MVP. The Clippers finished eighth last season out West and the odds currently reflect their strong chance to get Leonard. 

4. The Knicks and Pelicans will have to wait their turn

The Knicks come in at 25-to-1, the 12th-best odds in the NBA to win the title, but what would that number have looked like with a healthy Kevin Durant? Maybe half that number?

The Knicks are a potential landing spot for nearly every free agent, but without KD, the oddsmakers aren’t giving them much of a shot. They missed out on the top pick in the draft, and while they’re likely to get a good player at No. 3 — our Amy Fadool has them taking R.J.Barrett in her mock — they’ve got time before they’re going to be seen as challengers.

Same for the Pelicans (100-to-1), who are being praised for what they got in return for Anthony Davis. With the Pelicans' infusion of youth, it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of Zion, Lonzo Ball, and company over the next five years. But this year, according to the oddsmakers, certainly isn’t it.

5. Despite being favored, the Lakers could be the best value

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma — do the Lakers (4-to-1) need anyone else? Of course they do, but that’s a tremendous start. With their entire complement of talent intact at the start of these playoffs, the Warriors were minus-200 to win the title. Now imagine a team with the three players mentioned, and perhaps, another superstar. With the Warriors weakened, Kawhi perhaps headed to a lesser team and KD out for the season, getting the Lakers at 4-to-1 now could look like incredible value come next postseason.

6. Bonus Longshot: Dallas Mavericks at 42-to-1.

How good will the Mavs be with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis? Not sure, but 42-to-1 could be worth a punt.

Happy NBA “offseason,” everyone. See you on Thursday for the draft, and perhaps, more craziness. 

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NBA offseason begins in earnest as Lakers reportedly agree to trade with Pelicans for Anthony Davis

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NBA offseason begins in earnest as Lakers reportedly agree to trade with Pelicans for Anthony Davis

It didn’t take long for the NBA offseason to begin in earnest.

Just two days after the Raptors clinched the NBA title, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Los Angeles Lakers have acquired star center Anthony Davis in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. In return, the Pelicans are getting Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 selection in this year’s draft. 

The move has massive big-picture implications for the league. The Lakers now have a six-time All-Star with career averages of 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks to pair with LeBron James.

New Orleans got a substantial haul in return. Ball and Ingram, two former No. 2 overall picks, are both 21 years old. A Villanova product, Hart couldn’t build on a promising rookie campaign last year but has the makings of someone who can be a valuable NBA role player for many years. The Pelicans will also feel they have a real chance to land a star(s) with the three first-round picks, whether through the draft or through subsequent trades. They already had the No. 1 pick in this year's draft and are expected to select the electric Zion Williamson. 

According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the Lakers gave up all that for one guaranteed year of Davis — Haynes says Davis will enter free agency after this year. The fact that Toronto’s gamble to trade for one year of Kawhi Leonard before he hit free agency paid off could spark a league-wide trend of banking on short-term "rentals" for stars (see story). 

For the Sixers, the first, obvious takeaway from the trade is that their biggest rival failed to land Davis — the Celtics were reportedly interested in him, but The New York Times’ Marc Stein reports Boston refused to make Jayson Tatum available, which stunted negotiations. 

It’s unclear at the moment how the trade might affect Jimmy Butler or Tobias Harris, the Sixers' two big-name free agents. Haynes reported Friday that Butler, as expected, will decline his player option. He also reported the Lakers “have genuine interest” in Butler. The Sixers hold Butler’s Bird Rights and are the only team who can offer him a five-year, $190 million deal.  

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A year removed from Collargate, at least Sixers are in better shape than dysfunctional Lakers

A year removed from Collargate, at least Sixers are in better shape than dysfunctional Lakers

May 29, 2018, is a day that will live in infamy among Sixers fans.

One year ago, an article was published by the Ringer’s Ben Detrick which connected then-president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo to multiple Twitter accounts. Those who weren’t familiar with the term “burner account” learned in a hurry. It all led to Colangelo resigning from his post after an internal investigation.

If Collargate was the scandal we all wanted, then “Lakers 2.0” is the sequel we all needed. What Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka reportedly did to the Lakers makes what the Colangelo conglomerate did to the Sixers look like mere child’s play.

Who would’ve thought when the Sixers missed out on LeBron James that they’d appear to be in better shape than the team that landed him less than a year later?

Much like Detrick, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes wrote an explosive article outlining serious dysfunction in the Lakers’ attempt to return their organization to its previous glory. 

Johnson and Pelinka were able to sign James and crafted it as a masterstroke. Like they were the ones that sold James on choosing them over a team like the Sixers and it wasn’t solely because of geography. According to the story, the Lakers got more than they bargained for with James and all that comes with the superstar.

It was eerily similar to some of the stories that came out of Collargate. It was ironic that commissioner Adam Silver intervened with The Process, forcing the Sixers to bring in Jerry Colangelo, which led to the resignation of Sam Hinkie. The Colangelos were meant to come in and provide stability and instead created an even bigger mess. Beyond the scandal, Colangelo whiffed on several roster moves, most notably Markelle Fultz, that the Sixers felt the pain of this season.

Johnson was expected to provide a similar stability, with Pelinka helping with the minutia of dealing with agents and the numbers. After the duo landed James, they made a series of peculiar moves, signing guys like Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasely — talented players that never quite lived up to their potential and came with plenty of baggage. Then the Anthony Davis saga happened where any remotely talented young player on the roster was publicly dangled. It all culminated in the Lakers missing the playoffs, firing their coach — which then resulted in a disastrous coaching search — and now an offseason of uncertainty.

Thankfully for the Sixers, they have the most stability — at least from a front office standpoint — they’ve had in forever. They’re coming off back-to-back 50-win seasons. Brett Brown returns for his seventh season as head coach. Elton Brand gets his first real offseason as GM. The team has two young All-Stars that should be plenty motivated this offseason.

Sure, we have no idea what’s going to happen with Jimmy Butler or Tobias Harris or even JJ Redick. The Sixers only have five players under contract: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Zhaire Smith, Jonah Bolden and Jonathon Simmons (who likely won’t be back since only $1 million of his deal is guaranteed). 

But even with all the roster certainty, at least they’re not the Lakers right now.

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