Latest Kawhi Rumors Make Lakers’ Title Odds Near-Even Money
Just about every big free-agent name is off the board two days into free agency. That is, of course, every name except the one at the top of every team’s list.
Kawhi Leonard is in the process of deciding between the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors, and oddsmakers have already pegged a significant favorite.
Lakers Nearly Even Money to Win Title
The Lakers are a very good team with their current core of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma. If they were to add Leonard, they’d be the best team in the NBA, and it wouldn’t be close.
Oddsmakers clearly believe Leonard is leaning toward the Lakers, as their 2020 title odds have shortened from +250 to +125 from Monday night to Tuesday midday.
It could also have something to do with a reported $10,000 bet coming in on the Lakers to win the title next year, but that wouldn’t account for some of the other movement we’ve seen on the board in that same time.
A $10,000 bet just came in on the Lakers at 7/4 to win the NBA Championship at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook. The last time that happened Anthony Davis’ trade to the Lakers was reported 30 minutes later.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 2, 2019
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Raptors’ Title Odds Tumble Amid Leonard Pessimism
Toronto’s free agency pitch is pretty simple: You’ve won here, you can win again and become a legend in the city. It remains to be seen whether Leonard wants that, or if he wants to play in his hometown of Los Angeles.
Oddsmakers are leaning toward the latter, with Toronto’s NBA 2020 futures odds tumbling from +700 prior to free agency to +1500 on Tuesday morning. This coincided with the Lakers’ bump, leading many to believe oddsmakers are anticipating a Leonard-to-the-Lakers announcement.
The Raptors are still in good position to compete in the East without Leonard, and they’ve have significant cap space to grab other free agents on the market, but it’s tough to see them repeating with Leonard leading the way.
He reportedly is set to meet with the Raptors on Tuesday, and many believe a decision has not yet been made, regardless of who the frontrunner is at the moment.
Kawhi update: I’ve just been informed Kawhi has not made a decision. To think the Lakers are ahead of the Clippers or the Raptors would be wrong #KawhiUpdate— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) July 2, 2019
Clippers’ NBA Title Odds Also Dip
It’s worth noting that the Clippers, who for a long time were considered the favorites to land Leonard, have seen their 2020 title odds drop significantly since the start of free agency. They went from +1300 to +700 as free agency began, but since then have seen their odds lengthen to +1600 on July 1 to +1700 on July 2.
That little bump on Tuesday came at the same time the Lakers shifted to +150.
The Clippers agreed to a deal that will bring back Patrick Beverley next season, so they’re situated nicely as a 48-win team that returns most of its core if Leonard doesn’t choose the Clips. But in the gauntlet of the Western Conference, they don’t have a real title shot without the reigning Finals MVP.
About the Author
Mark Strotman is a veteran sports journalist who has covered the Chicago Bulls and the NBA for NBC Sports Chicago since 2012. His work has also appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune, Yahoo Sports and NBC Sports. He covered the NBA Playoffs in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 as well as Team USA Basketball in 2014 and 2016. He has also covered high school football and was nominated for a Midwest Emmy in 2016 for his work on a documentary featuring local Chicago product and NFL prospect Miles Boykin. Strotman graduated from Marquette University in 2012 and during his time there reported on the men’s basketball team, covering both the Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament in 2011 and 2012.