The NBA is in the process of getting an extreme makeover of sorts. The Celtics and 76ers already pulled a deal for the no. 1 pick (a.k.a. Markelle Fultz). Now the rumors suggest that Paul George and Jimmy Butler are likely to be moved in the near future, surprising only the most strident believers in inertia. The Cavs have emerged as the most likely landing spot for Butler, while the Lakers are in talks about George.
Far more shockingly, the Knicks are apparently willing to deal the future of their franchise, Kristaps Porzingis, garnering the attention of, basically, all 29 other teams.
Meanwhile, in San Antonio, Pau Gasol will be opting out of his contract (and then likely re-signing for less), allowing the team to make stronger moves in free agency, potentially going hard after Chris Paul.
For futures bettors, now is the time to pounce if you feel confident about a move or two.
Unfortunately, the over/unders for 2017-18 aren’t out yet, so we can’t pound the New York under. But here’s where my money would (and wouldn’t) be going for the 2017-18 NBA Title in light of the latest news.
San Antonio Spurs: 12/1 (+1200)
The Spurs dominated the Warriors for half a game in the Western Conference finals. Then Kawhi Leonard got hurt and everything went to s***. Kawhi’s rehab is going well, and Gasol’s opt-out will give the Spurs the chance to make a big move in the market. You’re never going to out-gun the current Warriors, but the Spurs aren’t trying to. They know the key to beating Golden State is making life hell for the Warriors’ shooters. Adding in another perimeter defensive stud like Paul would be massive. Even if they don’t land Paul, count on the front-office to head into next season with a Warriors-specific plan of attack in place. If injuries beset Golden State, San Antonio immediately becomes the class of the West, and arguably the league.
Verdict: At +1200, they’re worth a taste.
Cleveland Cavaliers: 4/1 (+400)
Cleveland was manhandled by the Warriors in the 2017 finals. The scary part is how uncompetitive the series was even though LeBron was at his best. This team does not have the depth to hang with the Warriors and picking up Butler isn’t going to change that. They’ll likely have to part with Kevin Love in order to bring in Jimmy Buckets. Sure, their offensive production could be a little more balanced with Butler replacing Love. But the defense doesn’t get any better, and that’s what killed the Cavs last year. Until they make significant moves to address the D, which finished 22nd in the league in efficiency, I’m staying away.
Verdict: Stay away.
Boston Celtics: 12/1 (+1200)
It’s preposterous that the Celtics have the same odds as the Spurs, their residency in the Eastern Conference notwithstanding. As big as the gap was between the Warriors and the Cavs, the gap between the Cavs and the Celtics was just as sizeable. Now holding the no. 3 pick in the draft, they’ll be able to bring in an impact player (likely Josh Jackson) and they have the cap space to go after Gordon Hayward or Paul George. If you think that’s going to significantly improve their chances of knocking James from his Eastern Conference throne, you’re delusional. Their offense only really functions with Isaiah Thomas on the floor. On defense, Brad Stevens has to hide him like he’s playing Capture the Flag with a rock of cocaine against a team of drug-sniffing beagles.
Verdict: Stay away.