- Do the Warriors have what it takes to be the first team in 17 years to pull off a three-peat?
- Will LeBron leave Cleveland for the bright lights of Los Angeles?
- Are Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs headed for an acrimonious divorce?
The 2017-18 season ended not with a bang but a whimper as the Golden State Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their third championship in four seasons. Kevin Durant won Finals MVP yet again, and Steph Curry reminded us all why he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer.
The season played out precisely like we thought it would, but there’s reason to believe that next year could be very different. For starters, LeBron James, Paul George, and Chris Paul are all free agents and could team up to finally overthrow the Warriors and kick start the NBA’s next dynasty.
We’ve taken their free agency into consideration and have come up with fresh title odds for all 30 teams (yes, even the Hawks). We also have new odds and insights into where the league’s top talent will play when the 2018-19 season tips off.
Odds to win the 2019 NBA Title
|Golden State Warriors||2/1|
|Los Angeles Lakers||20/1|
|Portland Trail Blazers||40/1|
|New Orleans Pelicans||45/1|
|San Antonio Spurs||50/1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||100/1|
|Los Angeles Clippers||200/1|
|New York Knicks||500/1|
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Warriors will open the 2018-19 season as heavy favorites to win their third consecutive championship. They’ll likely stumble at times during the regular season and complain of mental exhaustion, but you can count on their All-Star core to deliver when it matters most.
The Warriors will likely stumble at times during the regular season and complain of mental exhaustion, but you can count on their All-Star core to deliver when it matters most.
The Warriors’ greatest threat will come from whichever lucky team wins the LeBron James Sweepstakes. The Rockets, Sixers, Celtics, and Lakers are all in the running and will become instant title contenders with King James leading the break. The four-time MVP is coming off of a spectacular playoff run in which he scored 40 points eight times and averaged 34.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, nine assists, 1.4 steals, and one block per game.
Also keep an eye on the Celtics, who will welcome back Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. The All-Star tandem played just five minutes together in 2017-18 and give Boston the dynamic scoring and playmaking they sorely missed in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Odds to Win 2019 NBA MVP
Years from now we’ll all look back at the 2018 Playoffs as being Anthony Davis’ coming out party. The Brow averaged 30.1 points, 13.4 rebounds, two steals, and 2.3 blocks while leading the Pelicans to a shocking first round sweep of the Trail Blazers. He repeatedly posterized defenders with rapid fire rim runs and patrolled the paint with the ferocity of a pit bull. Look for Davis to pick up where he left off in 2018-19 and to earn the first MVP award of his career.
Odds LeBron James’ team makes the 2019 NBA Finals: 1/1
There are three things in this world that you can always count on: Death, taxes, and LeBron James playing in the NBA Finals. The 14-time All-Star has reached the league’s championship round in each of the last eight seasons and has an excellent chance of returning again in 2019.
There are three things in this world that you can always count on: Death, taxes, and LeBron James playing in the NBA Finals.
If LeBron made it to the Finals this year with JR Smith and Jordan Clarkson, just imagine how much damage he can do with Paul George and Brandon Ingram.
Superstar Landing Spots
|Los Angeles Lakers||3/2|
LeBron caused a seismic shift in the NBA in 2014 when he left Miami to sign a multi-year contract with the Cavaliers. Expect the same kind of ground-shaking, headline-making ruckus again this summer when he bolts Cleveland for Los Angeles.
LeBron will go to the Lakers. The most money the NBA can make is a Lakers v Celtics final with LeBron vs Kyrie. That’s the end game. Calling it now.
— Bill Squire (@billsquire) June 7, 2018
Not only do the Lakers have an exceptional young core, but they also have the ability to dish out two max contracts to LeBron and the playmate of his choice. They may not win a championship in 2018-19, but they’ll have an excellent shot afterwards as the Warriors and Rockets continue to age and break down, and Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart continue to mature. Sorry Cleveland, but LeBron is LeGone.
|Los Angeles Lakers||2/3|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||4/1|
Paul George has said all the right things about how much he loves Oklahoma City and the thrill of playing alongside a once-in-a-generation talent like Russell Westbrook, but everyone around the NBA understands it’s all just a smokescreen.
Lebron and Paul George to the Lakers next season
Laker Parade loading…..
— Martinez (@iggybro) June 7, 2018
The Palmdale native grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and will sign with LA minutes after the clock strikes midnight on July 1st.
|San Antonio Spurs||1/1|
|Los Angeles Lakers||9/1|
|Los Angeles Clippers||20/1|
The Spurs have refused to enter into trade talks for Kawhi Leonard, but that hasn’t stopped other GMs from calling. The Celtics have reportedly offered a package including Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, Guerschon Yabusele, and a pair of draft picks. It’s an enticing offer, and San Antonio GM RC Buford owes it to the organization to pursue it further.
|New Orleans Pelicans||2/1|
|Los Angeles Lakers||4/1|
DeMarcus Cousins and the Pelicans appeared to be destined for a long and happy partnership last year before the four-time All-Star ruptured his left Achilles tendon in a game against the Rockets. The injury brought a premature end to his season and nudged New Orleans towards playing a faster and more frenetic style. The result was a ten-game winning streak and a surprising first round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Pelicans are interested in signing Demarcus Cousins to a short-term deal this off-season
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) June 6, 2018
The Pelicans would still like to have Cousins back, but it has to be at the right price. New Orleans will likely offer Boogie a two-to-three year deal rather than the max contract he’s believed to be seeking. Expect plenty of tense negotiations – and some hurt feelings – before this deal is put to bed.
Odds Marcus Smart returns to the Celtics: 5/2
It was impossible to watch the Eastern Conference Finals without being blown away by Marcus Smart. The tough-as-nails combo guard led the Celtics in steals and assists and made life miserable for Cleveland’s wings with his smothering defense. He was the glue that held the Celtics together, but is he worth the $12-14 million that he’s demanding in free agency?
Danny Ainge seems to think so. Boston’s president of basketball operations has said resigning Smart is a priority and he’s confident a compromise can be reached to keep him in Beantown for another two-to-three years.
Odds JJ Redick returns to 76ers: 3/2
JJ Redick has told everyone who will listen that he would like to remain in Philadelphia, but the Sixers may not be able to afford to keep him. The 33-year-old earned $23 million in 2018-19 and would likely be the first casualty if the 76ers sign LeBron to a max contract.
Redick earned $23 million in 2018-19 and would likely be the first casualty if the 76ers sign LeBron to a max contract.
The good news for Redick is that he’s still an exceptional marksman who will have plenty of offers from contending teams looking for a quality floor stretcher.
Odds the Rockets keep Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela: 12/1
Rockets GM Daryl Morey would love to keep his talented core in tact, but it won’t be cheap. Houston spent over $119 million in salary in 2017-18 and will likely have to pony up $25 million to keep Chris Paul and $20 million to retain Clint Capela.
Suns are drafting DeAndre Ayton, likely taking them out of the Clint Capela RFA sweepstakes. Probably leaves the Hawks as most likely and maybe only team to make him a max offersheet.
— Rob Kimbell (@RobKSports) June 6, 2018
Something will have to give, and it will likely be Capela, who’s expected to have plenty of suitors this summer in free agency. The Mavericks, Suns, Hawks, and Lakers are all believed to be interested in the Swiss pogo stick and can offer him a deal that even the deep-pocketed Rockets won’t be able to match.
Odds the following players retire or are not on an NBA roster for the first game of the season
Just how old is Dirk Nowitzki? The year he came into the NBA Vancouver still had a team and Kobe Bryant still had hair. Much has happened since Nowitzki’s rookie season in 1998-99, but the 13-time All-Star is still plugging away, killing teams with his silky smooth fadeaway threes. Expect to see him in Dallas’ lineup again when the season begins.