nba free agency betting

Given the cumulative star power of the 2019 free-agent class, NBA devotees had arguably anticipated the arrival of June 30 as much as any game this past season.

Well, the results lived up to the hype. The blockbuster moves were everywhere Sunday. Some of the “second-tier” transactions that continued to roll in Monday weren’t exactly shabby in terms of name recognition, either.

And there’s still one big Size 14 shoe to drop. None other than newly minted world champion Kawhi Leonard remains the belle of the free-agent ball. His decision to either re-sign with the Raptors or head west to one of the two Los Angeles teams will be equivalent to a giant thumb on the scale for next season.

Naturally, all these real-world transactions have a corresponding and often seismic effect on futures odds. Here, we’ll break down the most impactful moves for the odds.

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Big Moves = Big Movement

Utah Jazz

Additions: Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis
Losses: Ricky Rubio, Jae Crowder, Derrick Favors, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen

2019-20 NBA Championship odds movement:

The Jazz are a unique case in that their biggest move actually came via trade with Memphis before the free agency period. Utah dealt Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen and a pair of first-round picks the night before the draft to Memphis for Mike Conley. The veteran represents a fairly significant upgrade over the departed Ricky Rubio. The loss of a pair of valued bigs in Crowder and Favors isn’t ideal. But the arrival of Bojan Bogdanovic brings some needed scoring punch and shifts the 6-foot-8 Joe Ingles to power forward for now. Ed Davis offers valued depth at the position as well.

Conley, though, is the signature acquisition. He comes off a season where he averaged a career-best 21.1 points for a bad Grizzlies team. Despite the fact he’ll be 32 years old by the start of next season, the books feel Utah has upped its chances by a notable margin. The Jazz’s odds were as much as +4000 to open the offseason. Nabbing Conley pushed them to +2500, and the free-agent additions of Bogdanovic and Davis prompted the latest move to +2000/+1900.

Brooklyn Nets

Additions: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Garrett Temple
Losses: D’Angelo Russell, Ed Davis, DeMarre Carroll

2019-20 NBA Championship odds movement:

The Nets have collected the most overall star power in free agency. Yet they’re still a bit of a challenge to prognosticate. That’s because one of their premium additions, Kevin Durant, has a massive asterisk next to his name. The perennial All-Star is projected to miss all of next season due to the Achilles tendon tear he suffered in the NBA Finals. That naturally dulls the total short-term impact of Brooklyn’s free agency haul, which includes Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan.

Accordingly, the Nets’ number has been one of the most volatile thus far. It was as high as +3000 in the earlier stages of the nascent offseason. It made a move to +2500 when the Irving rumors began gathering steam late last week. Then, there was a brief drop all the way to +1600 late Sunday following confirmation of Durant’s signing. It’s settled, for now, at +2000 after details of the imminent sign-and-trade of Russell to the Warriors.

Boston Celtics

Additions: Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter
Losses: Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier

2019-20 NBA Championship odds movement:

The Celts are seeing a couple of big names leave town. However, their move to quickly counter the loss of Kyrie Irving with Kemba Walker, who either exceeded or was in the neighborhood of Irving’s numbers last season in several major statistical categories, could arguably result in a net improvement based on his fit with the team.

Then, Enes Kanter won’t come close to matching Horford’s defensive prowess, but he’s a source of instant offense and rebounding. Oddsmakers appear to be particularly placing plenty of stock in the Walker addition. The boost in Boston’s chances ties them with the Nets and Jazz for the biggest upward movement thus far.

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Subtractions/Inactivity Lead To Drop

Milwaukee Bucks

Additions: Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez
Key re-signings: Khris Middleton
Losses: Malcolm Brogdon

2019-20 NBA Championship odds movement:

The Bucks’ movement has been minimal in the grand scheme of things. However, Malcolm Brogdon’s departure to the divisional-rival Pacers did move the needle negatively. And the important re-signing of Khris Middleton wasn’t enough to offset the loss. Then, Wes Matthews is a solid veteran addition, whose arrival essentially completes a swap of two-guards between Milwaukee and Indiana. However, Brogdon is clearly the better player at this point in their respective careers. Despite the slight tumble, the Bucks remain the favorite to represent the East in next year’s Finals.

Golden State Warriors

Additions: D’Angelo Russell
Key re-signings: Klay Thompson
Losses: Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala

2019-20 NBA Championship odds movement:

The Warriors are surrounded by uncertainty on a couple of fronts. One is the question of when exactly Klay Thompson will be available next season. The sharpshooter famously tore his ACL in the Finals last month. Thompson could return within about a nine-month window, presumably making him available for the stretch run next spring. However, that’s naturally up in the air. One layer of ambiguity regarding Thompson was removed Sunday when he re-upped with Golden State on a max contract.

Then, the Dubs seemingly outfitted himself with the best possible “stopgap” measure while Thompson is out in the form of D’Angelo Russell. The Warriors executed a sign-and-trade with the Nets on Sunday for the dynamic guard. However, Monday brought the news that Golden State may not be Russell’s final stop prior to the start of the 2019-20 campaign. Whether that holds true will naturally have a sizable impact on GSW’s championship odds.

The one major definite with respect to the Warriors at present is that Durant’s run out west is over. The newly minted Brooklyn Net was never expected to play this coming season, however. The bottom line is that despite the coming and going of a couple of big names and the retaining of a third, it all adds up to less movement than expected due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding each one.

Houston Rockets

Additions: None
Key re-signings: Gerald Green, Danuel House, Jr., Austin Rivers
Losses: None

2019-20 NBA Championship odds movement:

That persistent sound of crickets coming out of the Lone Star State emits specifically from Houston. The Rockets have mostly been spectators over the first day-plus of free agency. It’s not that there hasn’t been some stirring in Houston; however, it’s mostly had to do with rumored departures.

First, there were rumblings of a Chris Paul trade demand due to an allegedly fractured relationship with James Harden. Then, there was an apparently unrequited interest in Jimmy Butler. As the leaked scenario went, Clint Capela would be moved—possibly to the Celtics—via trade to open the necessary salary cap room to ink Jimmy Buckets.

We now know Butler is in the midst of a move to the Miami Heat. Both Paul and Capela are apparently staying put, for now. The former also denies he ever made a trade request. As it stands, the cap-strapped Rockets are ill-suited to make any additions beyond their re-signings for the time being. A squad that went 54-29 last season and bowed out in the semifinal round is thus set to return largely intact. However, major upgrades on the part of the Lakers and a possible Kawhi Leonard addition to either of the two Los Angeles squads bump Houston down a notch for the moment.

New York Knicks

Additions: Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock
Losses: None

2019-20 NBA Championship odds movement:

Call it a classic case of overcompensation syndrome. Or displaced frustration. Or simply a good, old-fashioned example of a jilted lover’s shopping spree. Whatever the term, the Knicks apparently figured enough quantity would sublimate the trauma of the quality they missed out on when both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant opted to sign with none other than the cross-town rival Brooklyn Nets.

New York’s flurry of solid but decidedly second-tier signings didn’t make much of an impression on oddsmakers. The Knicks’ initial offseason odds slumped when they failed to land the No. 1 pick, and consequently, Zion Williamson. While R.J. Barrett is certainly a high-upside consolation prize, he doesn’t project to have the same impact. Then, the matching curve balls thrown by Irving and Durant left them scrambling.

Julius Randle is an excellent acquisition from an offensive standpoint. And there’s no question New York has significantly upgraded its talent overall. They’ve particularly fortified the frontcourt and now have quality depth, if nothing else, at point guard with both Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith, Jr. in the fold. However, the disparity between what was thought to be within their grasp at one point combined with the moves made by several Eastern Conference foes have led to the most precipitous drop in odds of any club.

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Philadelphia 76ers

Additions: Josh Richardson, Al Horford
Key re-signings: Tobias Harris
Losses: Jimmy Butler, J.J. Redick

2019-20 NBA Championship odds movement:

The 76ers are the subject of an interesting juxtaposition between FanDuel and DraftKings sportsbooks. The mixed bag that’s been Philadelphia’s early free agency period has resulted in a slight dip in odds on DraftKings, but a move up on FanDuel.

The sign-and-trade with the Heat that will see Jimmy Butler and Josh Richardson switch teams technically remains pending due to a snag with Goran Dragic’s eventual destination. However, the move is fully expected to be made official. Richardson isn’t quite Butler’s caliber, but he’s coming off a career-best season and has improved year over year in multiple categories since entering the league in 2015.

Tobias Harris’ long-term deal was pivotal after he mostly proved an excellent fit alongside Joel Embiid down low. The addition of Al Horford allows Harris to shift to small forward and gives the 76ers a stronger defensive presence at the four. Then, Richardson is expected to potentially be a more complete asset at J.J. Redick’s old shooting guard spot.

Add it all up, and you’ve got a slight difference of opinion for the time being between the two operators. However, provided Embiid’s knees hold up, the Sixers could roll out a team very close in caliber to the one that just missed advancing to the Eastern Finals.

The “Waiting On Kawhi” Trio

Lakers, Clippers, Raptors

All three teams have seen modest movement in their odds since free agency started, as none have made notable additions.

To be clear, the Lakers’ trade acquisition earlier in the month made them the odds-on favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy next June. They also have approximately $32.2 million in cap space still available. That’s enough to potentially lure Leonard, who’s reportedly spoken to Magic Johnson on multiple occasions in recent days.

Making the matter all the more interesting is the fact their fellow Staples Center denizens, the Los Angeles Clippers, currently check in with about $41 million in cap room even after re-signing Patrick Beverley. They’ve been linked as a possible Kawhi destination since the regular season. In fact, at one point, they were considered the likeliest landing spot.

And finally, there are the world champs. The buzz in the immediate aftermath of Toronto’s NBA Finals win was that it could make all the difference in the world with respect to Leonard’s 2019-20 destination. The allure of a title defense may still be there, but the increasing chatter regarding the two L.A. teams lends credence to the notion it may be fading fast.

As such, the oddsmakers essentially have all three teams in a holding pattern for the time being. Whatever Leonard’s landing spot, that franchise’s championship odds will shoot up significantly.