Vegas: Heat the Favorite for NBA Title
After James announced his decision to leave Cleveland last night on ESPN, oddsmakers at Las Vegas Sports Consultants made Miami the prohibitive favorite to win the NBA title, moving the club's odds to 4-5 -- a massive shift from just a few weeks ago, when Miami was a 25-to-1 long-shot to be the 2010-11 NBA champions. After guard Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh committed to Miami yesterday, oddsmakers at several Vegas sports books moved the Heat's odds to 6-1, ranking them as the second most-likely NBA champion after the Los Angeles Lakers, who began today as 7-2 favorites.
After James' move to Miami, however, the Lakers odds moved to 5-1, according to Sean Van Patten, an oddsmaker at Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which provides point spreads and gambling information to all the major casinos. "Our thinking is with LeBron joining two All-Stars, Miami becomes the best team in the league," he said.
To no one's surprise, the "smart money" doesn't like the future prospects of James' former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Prior to to tonight's announcement, oddsmakers had the Cavs title odds at anywhere between 12-1 and 15-1. After James made his departure official, LVSC dropped the Cavs' championship odds to 75-1, a clear signal that professional gamblers don't believe Cleveland will be able to acquire top players in the aftermath of LeBron's exit. (Incidentally, immediately after LeBron told ESPN's Jim Gray that he would be taking his talents to South Florida, there were few traces of James on the Cavs' official website, which featured a prominent shot of a team cheerleader and a story about the team's new assistant coach.)
The odds for all the clubs involved in the LeBron sweepstakes were impacted by the long-awaited announcement. The New York Knicks, whose title odds improved from 25-1 to 18-1 after Amar'e Stoudamire announced he would sign with the club and reports surfaced that James might join him, are now 45-1 long-shots.
Chicago, which agreed to terms with power forward Carlos Boozer Wednesday, started Thursday at 18-1 according to vegasinsider.com, which aggregates odds from the Nevada sports books. But after getting spurned by LeBron, the Bulls' championship prospects odds will likely move to 25-1 by tomorrow, according to Van Patten.
All of the "future odds" for next season will likely be fluid over the next few days, he added, as more free agents announce their decisions and clubs continue to make moves in the offseason. But barring a major acquisition by another team or an injury to James, Bosh or Wade, expect Miami to be the wise guys' favorite heading into opening night.