LeBron James dragged the Cleveland Cavaliers to a fourth straight NBA Finals trip this past season, and now he’s expected to transform the Los Angeles Lakers into an immediate championship contender.
Westgate has released new odds for next year’s NBA Championship:
Warriors – 10/11
Lakers – 7/2
Celtics – 7/2
Rockets – 7/1
Sixers – 14/1
Cavaliers – 500/1
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 2, 2018
The Golden State Warriors, who defeated the Cavs in three of the last four NBA Finals, of course were the prohibitive favorite at 10-11.
Cleveland wound up falling well back to 500-1, which is hardly a surprise. The Cavs have no star power beyond Kevin Love and will in all likelihood be picking in the lottery in the 2019 NBA draft.
Since those odds were released, L.A. re-signed shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and acquired veterans Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo. All of them are are on one-year contracts, and only “KCP” provides perimeter shooting reinforcement.
From a basketball standpoint, James doesn’t fit particularly well with Stephenson or McGee. However, Stephenson has been a menace to The King throughout his career, and McGee provides athleticism and interior defense. The McGee signing looks better, too, after the Warriors acquired DeMarcus Cousins in free agency.
The really exciting development is the arrival of Rondo. An extremely high-IQ player, the mercurial Rondo will push rising second-year point guard Lonzo Ball for a spot in the starting five.
Rondo may also be the best pass-first floor general James has ever played with. It’s clear L.A. is intent on making James feel at home after leaving his home state of Ohio.
The Lakers could use some more three-point shooting, so it’ll be interesting to see what other pieces Magic Johnson and the front office add to the roster prior to the 2018-19 season. Any moves to help James could help LA’s title odds shorten even more.