- BetOnline has updated its NBA Championship odds following a flurry of free agent moves
- The Los Angeles Clippers (+300) are the title favorites after landing Kawhi Leonard
- The Golden State Warriors (+1400) remain contenders after the D’Angelo Russell trade
When thousands of people across North America received a “You up?” text late Friday night, it had nothing to do with a booty call for once. No, instead it was bewildered basketball fans messaging their friends about the summer’s biggest Woj-bomb.
Mystery man Kawhi Leonard finally made his free agent decision, choosing the Los Angeles Clippers in a surprise move that embarrassed many of the biggest names in NBA media.
Let’s look at BetOnline to see how the gripping conclusion of “Kawhi Watch” has impacted the 2020 NBA Championship odds.
2020 NBA Championship Odds
|Los Angeles Clippers||+300|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+400|
|Golden State Warriors||+1400|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+4000|
*Odds taken on 06/09/19
The New Favorite: Los Angeles Clippers
With Kawhi, any outcome seemed possible. Whether he formed a superteam with LeBron’s Lakers, delayed his decision until September so he could “meditate on it” or retired from the NBA to open up a surf & turf joint on the beach, nothing would have shocked us.
Still, no one saw the Paul George trade coming. After billionaire-owner Steve Ballmer sent an unprecedented package of draft picks to Oklahoma City for the 29-year-old swingman, the Clippers became instant favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The famously reclusive Kawhi Leonard has proved to be more of a recruiter behind the scenes than anyone in the NBA realized, writes @TheSteinLine. https://t.co/lpIfRflT8c
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) July 6, 2019
Kawhi and PG13 immediately form the best defensive tandem in the league as Leonard is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and George has claimed either First Team All-Defense or Second Team All-Defense four times in his career.
With the Lakers scrambling to fill out their roster with a flurry of mediocre signings (Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, Javal McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope), the Clippers look like the stronger NBA Championship bet.
Bigger, Not Better: Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers might not have gotten better, but they sure got bigger.
After all the free-agent additions, departures and sign-and-trades, Philadelphia essentially replaced Jimmy Butler (now in Miami) and JJ Redick (now in New Orleans) with 33-year-old power forward Al Horford and prototypical 3-and-D guy Josh Richardson.
ESPN story on Al Horford agreeing to a free agent deal with the 76ers, who have transformed their roster again. https://t.co/uu7TwAU4vI
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
They also extended young playmaker Ben Simmons (five years, $170 million) and overpaid to re-sign deadline-acquisition Tobias Harris (five years, $180 million). The net result is an exceptionally long, defensive team that will likely have a lot of trouble shooting the ball from the outside.
Not Dead Yet: Golden State Warriors
Set to move to their new home in San Francisco without Brooklyn-bound Kevin Durant, the Warriors executed a savvy sign-and-trade with the Nets to bring in All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell.
While the team had to deal Andre Iguodala and future draft capital to Memphis to create the necessary cap space, the move should keep Golden State competitive while Klay Thompson, extended to a five-year, $190 million max contract, recovers from a torn ACL.
D-Lo is a Warrior. Wow.
Golden State has acquired D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade deal worth $117M over 4 years, per @wojespn pic.twitter.com/TVuVLkDd2a
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 1, 2019
Only time will tell if Russell’s 39.4% average on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers makes him the third Splash Brother, or if he’s just a nice trade chip, but the out-of-nowhere swap helped the Warriors reclaim contender status.
Given Durant won’t even suit up this upcoming season, you can make the case that Golden State got much better during free agency. Currently listed at 14/1 to win the 2020 NBA title, the three-time champs are easily the best value on the board.