Bet On It. LeBron's decision changes nothing for the 2019 NBA Championship

The NBA Championship odds dropped dramatcially when LeBron James went to the Lakers, but the Golden State Warriors are still huge favorites, and rightfully so, to win it all again in 2019.

As they say, looks like Déjà vu all over again with the Warriors celebrating at -150.


Although all in Cleveland no doubt shed a tear last week learning of LeBron James second departure, no one on the Golden State Warriors or their management blinked.  Nor did any Vegas or offshore sportsbooks adjusting the line predicting their chances to hoist the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy again next season.

In fact, as bad as the news was for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it might have been worse for the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and sliding San Antonio Spurs seeing LeBron cross over into their Western Conference.  Perhaps good news for the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers saying goodbye in the East.  That is until any potential meetings next June. 

To give a perspective on how this one mega superstar player’s effect has on the 2018-2019 future book odds, the following are the current adjusted numbers courtesy of BetOnline:

Golden State Warriors     -150
Boston Celtics                +500
Los Angeles Lakers         +500
Houston Rockets            +800
Philadelphia 76ers        +1000
San Antonio Spurs        +4000
Oklahoma City Thunder +5000
Toronto Raptors            +5000
Milwaukee Bucks           +6600
Utah Jazz                      +6600
Indiana Pacers               +8000
Minnesota Timberwolves +8000
New Orleans Pelicans     +8000
Cleveland Cavaliers      +10000
Denver Nuggets           +10000
Detroit Pistons             +10000
Los Angeles Clippers     +10000
Portland Trail Blazers    +10000
Washington Wizards     +10000
Dallas Mavericks          +12500
Charlotte Hornets        +15000
Miami Heat                 +15000
Atlanta Hawks             +25000
Brooklyn Nets             +25000
Chicago Bulls              +25000
New York Knicks          +25000
Phoenix Suns              +25000
Memphis Grizzlies        +50000
Orlando Magic             +50000
Sacramento Kings       +50000

As Crosby, Stills & Nash once sang “we’ve been all been here before”.  That would be the Déjà vu of the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championship at matching 2017-2018 all-time low odds of -150 at most preferred sportsbooks.  Nothing has imminently changed and in fact, odds could go lower before the start of the regular season. 

The Warriors responded to LeBron’s anticipated announcement by adding New Orleans Pelicans all-star DeMarcus Cousins to their roster 48 hours afterwards.  True, Cousins won’t be on the court until January and will be severely challenged coming back from an Achilles injury.  But the Warriors aren’t done filling out their roster yet and are likely to add another complimentary component.  Their Hall of Fame prospects will be at their prime, plus newcomers will benefit from last years’ championship experience. 

NBA Championship odds

A Purple Flag on the Odds Board

No matter what you are wagering upon, the concept and priority remains the same.  It’s about VALUE.  And a quick observation on the current NBA future odds board highlights a good one, a few possible ones and certainly one poor one. 

Sadly, delete all NBA teams from the Milwaukee Bucks on down as having no chance whatsoever.  Compared to other sports, in the NBA playoff format and free agent system, they simply have no chance to compete for a championship.  Win one game, always.  Cover a game, sure.  But competing to win the Finals are out of the question while each team’s corresponding odds are insulting to smart bettors.  Perhaps the league someday will invent a new system to change this reality.

Without debate, the poorest value on the current board belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers.  We will save the argument whether LeBron James is or is not the greatest basketball player of all-time.  This is NBA basketball, not golf or tennis, where five to eleven men comprise a team to achieve a championship.  Amazingly, the Lakers were listed at this date last year by BetOnline at +15000 (150-1) to win the crown.  To see them now at approximately 5-1 at most preferred sportsbooks is like insinuating the Lakers will be playing five men against four on the court this season.  It’s nice they added veteran Rajon Rondo, but inheriting the father and son Ball combination could be an accident waiting to happen. 

The reasonable values belong to the Boston Celtics and perhaps the Philadelphia 76ers.  With LeBron out of their way in the Eastern Conference, at least it severely lightens their path to reaching the NBA Finals.  With that comes a sobering price.  All bookmakers have been clever enough to realize this and diminished the Celtics odds to an equal +500 and the Sixers to a non-enticing +1000. 

*As a footnote, watch for upcoming sportsbook proposition bets listing choices of BOTH teams (East & West) to appear in the NBA Finals.  A strong, strong suggestion to lock-in on the Warriors and Celtics ASAP before the books get crushed with action and the price deflates.  Anything offered between Even money to 2-1 there would be a terrific opportunity in the all-too predictable NBA universe. 

The 2019 Summer Vacation Plan

Make no mistake about it.  This is gambling and NOT investing. 

Therefore, the closest sports comparison rests in confidently depending on the Golden State Warriors to return and win the 2019 NBA Finals at a current reasonable price of approximately -150.  I suggest investing approximately 80% of a budgeted 2019 Summer vacation cost on the Warriors.  Leave the remaining 20% for the line release of a Warriors-Celtics NBA Finals rematch. 

Barring obvious key injuries, this is likely the last opportunity possible to accomplish this excellent wagering strategy.  However, killing the major injury concern were the Celtics last season.  Boston somehow almost got to the NBA Finals and past LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers without two major starters.  After this season, Magic Johnson will likely fulfill his promise to LeBron.  A $154 million bonus and the promise to add one or two major free-agent Lakers acquisitions to begin overcoming the Warriors dynasty. 

A modest future book “investment” put away now on the Warriors insures a very likely nice vacation for next Summer.  Remember, the Super Bowl winner is very much in doubt, the Washington Capitals won’t be the favorite to win the next Stanley Cup and four teams will fight it out in the AL to even make it to World Series.  No, -150 isn’t a very sexy price but I wish life was this predictable to cash . . . until LeBron gets more help. 

Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.

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