The NBA trade deadline passed last Thursday, and there were small ripples in the marketplace, but no seismic shifts at the top of the betting board.
The trade deadline affects bettors in two key ways. It provides an opportunity to pounce on an NBA futures bet with perceived value. It’s also important to remember several of these teams involved in deadline deals may be shuffling their lineups to accommodate players. Bettors should pay close attention to whether teams’ new rotations are having success.
The Bucks made no moves at the deadline and stand as the 14/5 second favorites at William Hill to win the NBA title. Milwaukee is looking to add Marvin Williams, who is currently being bought out of his current contract with the Hornets.
The Lakers, the 8/5 title favorites, also stood pat at the deadline, but their Staples Center cousins, the Clippers, did add forward Marcus Morris in a three-way deal with the Knicks and Wizards. Morris was averaging a career-high 19 points with the Knicks this season. The Clippers acquired him for two reasons: defense and to keep him away from the Lakers, who refused to deal Kyle Kuzma to New York. The Morris deal dropped the Clippers ever so slightly from +320 to 3/1. Both LA clubs are meeting with point guard Darren Collison, who’d be a good 3-point shooter and backup point guard off the bench.
The Clippers’ collective team identity remains a bit of a question mark — they’ve rarely had Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the floor at the same time. They are, however, loaded with talent, and the marketplace seems to believe they can flip the switch come playoff time.
Both the Clippers and the Lakers could be vulnerable to the Rockets’ “small ball” approach of spreading the floor and chucking a lot of 3s. The Clippers also are still searching for defense down low that can contain Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic.
Speaking of the Rockets, they are 15/1 at William Hill. With the trading of Clint Capela and the acquisition of Robert Covington, another “3-and-D” guy, the Rockets didn’t start a player taller than
6-foot-6 in their 121-111 victory over the Lakers on Thursday night. However, they were blown out 127-91 at Phoenix in a back-to-back on Friday night.
Houston is the ultimate boom-or-bust team in the Western Conference and may possess value to win the West at 15/2. The Rockets can get worked by teams with good post players (i.e., Denver), and Anthony Davis of the Lakers can put up big numbers against them, but he’s not a post player who necessarily overpowers the competition.
The Nuggets could generate some interest as a bit of a longer shot at 25/1. Keep in mind, they were only one quarter away from making the Western Conference finals last season and are currently lurking in that third spot in spite of being a M*A*S*H unit of late with recent injuries.
In the Eastern Conference, the pecking order remains relatively the same. The Bucks remain the favorites, followed by the Celtics (18/1) and Sixers (20/1).
Arguably the biggest movers were the Heat, who had their odds cut from 35/1 to 20/1. Heat president Pat Riley is 74 and likely nearing the end of his career in that role, so he clearly wasn’t going to sit idle at the deadline. He acquired Andre Iguodala, who is on the downside of his career at 36, but does perhaps provide some influence as a winner and a key cog on the Warriors’ championship teams. Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill are also “3-and-D” guys who have played in big playoff series and provide some experience to a team with a star in Jimmy Butler and a bunch of young guys. The players they added are essentially better than what they gave up (oft-injured Justise Winslow and two players who wore out their welcome in Dion Walters and James Johnson), but how they fit in remains to be seen.
Though there were some ripples underneath in the NBA futures market, the chalk at the beginning of the season (Bucks, Lakers, Clippers) remain the chalk to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy.