The NBA trade deadline has come and gone. As usual, the actual deadline day wasn’t all that noisy. We heard the biggest racket in the days leading up to it, as DeMarcus Cousins was sent to New Orleans, Serge Ibaka joined the Raptors, and the Lakers shook up their entire organization by naming Magic Johnson their president of basketball operations (“PBO”) and Rob Pelinka (Kobe Bryant’s former agent) general manager. Magic got right to work, shipping out leading scorer Lou Williams just hours after he had the power to do so.
A few teams did make significant moves on the actual deadline, and all of the recent transactions necessitate a reset of the 2017 title odds.
We’re also contractually obliged to prognosticate on Magic’s future with the NBA’s most storied franchise. It was a deal we made with the devil; all we got in return was a top-40 protected second-round pick. Still better than Vlade and the Kings would have managed, though.
MTS’ tripartite dream-team has banded together – like the Wonder Twins with a third wheel – to give you the latest odds for the 2017 NBA title, props on future of the Lakers, and the chances that other Hall-of-Famers land front-office jobs with their former teams. Enjoy.
AP: Alexander Paruk
BM: Bubs Malloy
PP: Perry Port
2017 NBA Title Odds
- Golden State Warriors: 1/1 (down from 5/6)
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 7/2 (no change: acquired Chris Andersen)
- San Antonio Spurs: 12/1 (down from 23/2)
- Boston Celtics: 20/1 (down from 18/1)
- Houston Rockets: 22/1 (up from 28/1: acquired Lou Williams; traded KJ McDaniels, Tyler Ennis)
- Washington Wizards: 22/1 (up from 24/1: acquired Bojan Bogdanovic)
- Toronto Raptors: 30/1 (up from 50/1: acquired Serge Ibaka, PJ Tucker; traded Terrence Ross, Jared Sullinger)
- Los Angeles Clippers: 45/1 (down from 40/1)
- Utah Jazz: 65/1 (no change)
- Oklahoma City Thunder: 80/1 (up from 99/1: acquired Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott)
- Memphis Grizzlies: 90/1 (no change)
- Atlanta Hawks: 99/1 (up from 125/1: acquired Ersan Ilyasova; traded Tiago Splitter)
- New Orleans Pelicans: 99/1 (up from 200/1: acquired DeMarcus Cousins, Omar Casspi; traded Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans)
- Indiana Pacers: 110/1 (no change)
- Detroit Pistons: 150/1 (no change)
- Chicago Bulls: 175/1 (down from 110/1: traded Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott)
- Miami Heat: 175/1 (no change)
- Milwaukee Bucks: 175/1 (no change: traded Roy Hibbert)
- Denver Nuggets: 175/1 (up from 200/1: acquired Mason Plumlee, Roy Hibbert)
- Dallas Mavericks: 200/1 (up from 250/1: acquired Nerlens Noel; traded Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut)
- Portland Trail Blazers: 200/1 (no change: acquired Jusef Nurkic; traded Mason Plumlee)
- Charlotte Hornets: 225/1 (no change: traded Chris Andersen)
- Minnesota Timberwolves: 250/1 (no change)
- New York Knicks: 300/1 (no change)
- Philadelphia 76ers: 400/1 (down from 300/1: traded Nerlens Noel, Ersan Ilyasova; acquired Justin Anderson, Tiago Splitter)
- Sacramento Kings: 500/1 (down from 250/1: traded DeMarcus Cousins, Omar Casspi; acquired Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans)
- Los Angeles Lakers: 1500/1 (down from 750/1: traded Lou Williams; acquired Corey Brewer, Tyler Ennis)
- Orlando Magic: 1500/1 (down from 750/1: traded Serge Ibaka)
- Phoenix Suns: 2000/1 (down from 1500/1: traded PJ Tucker; acquired Jared Sullinger)
- Brooklyn Nets: 9999/1 (no change: traded Bojan Bogdanovic; acquired KJ McDaniels)
The biggest movers during deadline week were the Pelicans and Raptors. We don’t know how Cousins and Anthony Davis will work together over the long-term. The potential is there, though.
The Raps should see their recent skid halted with the additions of Ibaka and Tucker. Look for them to make a charge for that second-seed, which was theirs for much of the first half.
The Thunder and Mavs are under-the-radar movers thanks to a couple nice deadline acquisitions. Noel strengthens a severely lacking Dallas frontcourt. Gibson and McDermott help lighten the ton of bricks resting squarely on Russell Westbrook’s shoulders.
The addition of Mason Plumlee suddenly turns the Nuggets into title conten … lol, sorry, I can’t type that with a straight face. – AP
Magic Johnson/LA Lakers Props
O/U years Magic is the Lakers’ PBO: 9.5
It doesn’t matter that Magic can’t evaluate talent, and doesn’t have a strong grasp of how the salary cap works; the whole point of him getting this job is being able to attract the best people. He’s poised to be the face of the operation, not necessarily the brain. And since this is the same face that brought the Lakers five titles in the 80s, he’s going to get a ton of leeway, no matter how well this goes. Honestly, it’s more likely he leaves the position out of boredom rather than being forced out. – BM
Odds on when the Lakers return to the playoffs
- 2017-18: 8/1
- 2018-19: 1/1
- 2019-20: 7/4
- After 2020: 50/1
You’d have to be a special kind of dumb to not get this franchise back to the playoffs in the next three years. Not only do the Lakers have some quality young assets, but they’ll be an easy sell for free agents. Heck, Paul George already has his ticket purchased apparently. Throw in the impending collapse of some Western playoff staples, including the cross-town Clippers, and the Lakers should be at least a no. 7 seed by 2018-19. – BM
Odds a big-name free agent comes to the Lakers by the end of 2018: 1/9
Even if we’re just limiting the potential list to Paul George, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and DeMarcus Cousins, this is almost a lock. If Magic can’t talk any of them into coming, then what was he brought in for? – BM
Odds Lakers win an NBA Title while Magic is PBO: 2/1
This will certainly not happen in the immediate future. But down the line, perhaps, in a magical, post-LeBron world where the NBA looks eerily similar to how it was in the 60s? Picture this: the Celtics, Lakers, Bucks, and 76ers are all powerhouse franchises, and since L.A. plays in the West, they automatically make the Finals every year. Sure, they lose every time, but they’ll eventually break through when the bane of their existence, Markelle Fultz, finally retires with 10 rings.
It sounds crazy, but, I mean, it’s not the worst prediction ever. – BM
Odds to stay with their team longer (start to finish)
- Larry Bird/Pacers: 1/15
- Magic Johnson/Lakers: 15/1
Larry’s already been running the Pacers for 13 seasons (he took a year off in 2012-13 for health reasons), and unless he totally botches the Paul George situation, he should be granted a chance to see this team through a rebuild. Plus, now that Magic is in the GM game, I’m sure he wants to show up his old rival for years to come.
Even if Magic is good (and the odds above have already suggested skepticism toward that possibility), he’s already 57 years old. He’ll be 70 when he catches where Bird is today, and I don’t think a man with Johnson’s type of investment profile plans on working until he’s 70. – BM
Odds to have the best winning percentage while in control of team
- Larry Bird/Pacers: 10/11
- Magic Johnson/Lakers: 8/7
- Michael Jordan/Hornets: 99/1
The Pacers have a very solid .519 win percentage during Bird’s time in charge. Jordan’s Hornets? Not so much. Since he was given final say over basketball decisions in 2006, they’re just 354-506 and have more name changes than playoff series wins.
Magic will start out with a losing run as the Lakers tank away this season, but given all the advantages he has over his contemporaries – like the ability to spend and not being located in Indiana – he should close the gap quickly.
Odds Magic’s Lakers meet an old rival in the Finals in the next ten years
- Larry Bird/Pacers: 99/1
- Michael Jordan/Hornets: 125/1
This would be fun, but isn’t going to happen. To start with, the chances of any two particular teams meeting in the finals in any given year are awfully long – unless it’s 2017 and they’re named the Warriors and Cavs. The state of these three franchises makes the odds all the longer.
There’s only one way the Hornets are getting out of the East anytime soon, and that’s if Jordan himself put the shorts back on. As for the Pacers, this trade deadline showed there’s a strong possibility Paul George won’t be in Indiana much longer. Then the rebuild begins in earnest. The Eastern Conference should open up again once LeBron James retires, though. So, maybe sometime around 2022, the Pacers and Hornets will start the year with more than an 80/1 shot to win the title.
As for the Lakers, I don’t see them contending in a tough Western Conference until they have the trio of Lonzo Ball, Paul George, and DeMarcus Cousins. (Summer 2018?) – PP
Odds Kobe Bryant joins the Lakers’ front office while Magic is PBO: 5/3
It may not happen immediately, but Magic and Pelinka will maintain their pursuit. – PP
NBA Legend/Front-Office Odds
Odds the following Hall-of-Famers take control of their former teams
- Suns: 24/1
- 76ers: 33/1
We know Barkley thinks he can, but I’m not sure either of these teams’ owners are as confident.
- Knicks: 4/1
- Pistons: 6/1
Thomas was successful in his first season as the president of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, leading them to a first-place finish in the East. There is certainly potential here, especially with both the Knicks and Pistons being a disaster. I see the Knicks spot becoming available first. However, Thomas may be a little too busy in the champagne business to oversee another franchise.
- Orlando Magic: 40/1
- Lakers (post-Magic Johnson): 50/1
Why would a smaller-market team want to bring back a player who immediately turned his back on them to chase the spotlight? Also, the Lakers are much more interested in keeping Kobe Bryant close. LA may be big, there’s not enough room for both Kobe and Shaq, as we learned years ago.
- Jazz: 8/1
- Jazz: 12/1
I’d rather see Stockton and Malone do it together. Coaching is the more likely position for both.
- Trail Blazers: 49/1
Coaching didn’t go very well for Clyde the Glide, and Portland is pretty content with its current situation.
- Knicks: 9/1
The legendary Knick was in the discussion for New York’s head coaching vacancy earlier this season. It won’t be long before Ewing gets to run a team, but it will be in a coaching capacity, not in the front office.
- Hawks: 40/1
It seems Wilkins’ main concern right now is getting some closure on that dunk contest he lost to Michael Jordan.
- Bulls: 33/1
Jordan’s sidekick has no coaching or managerial experience to this point. The Bulls organization is too storied to make a move like this. (Or does Magic taking over the Lakers completely discredit that theory?)
- 76ers: 19/1
I don’t think the 76ers are willing to pay The Answer that much … – PP
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