These wild and crazy NBA offseasons are garnering more eyeballs than the latest summer blockbuster, with big-name players possibly taking their talents elsewhere. And in the NBA theater, there’s no talent better than LeBron James (even if he didn’t win MVP).
James has captivated basketball fans with free agency decisions in the summers of 2010 (choosing the Miami Heat) and 2014 (returning to Cleveland). And now, with another “decision” pending, LeBron has a choice to stay with his hometown Cavaliers – and enjoy losing to the Warriors in the finals again – or moving on to a potential contender and joining some other elite NBAers in a quest to stop Golden State.
Oddsmakers have been all over this free agent frenzy, even before the 2017-18 NBA season wrapped. They’ve had LeBron markets open all season, taking money on which team will claim the King in 2018-19.
Here’s a look from Covers.com at the favorites and why James could make a jump to these select squads (Odds via BetDSI.eu):
Los Angeles Lakers -250
The Lakers are heavy favorites to lure LeBron this summer. Los Angeles has been a rumored destination for not only James but also Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and his defection to the West will likely hinge on at least one of these guys landing in La-La Land.
There are, however, plenty of question marks around why LeBron would go to the Lakers in the first place, and this market does reflect more the rabid purple-and-gold fanbase of L.A. than the actual chances of James signing on. If you’re looking for value in this prop market, keep reading.
Philadelphia 76ers +350
I’m sure “The Process” never factored in LeBron James, but the Sixers have an honest shot of landing LeBron. But that move could come at a price in terms of the development of Philadelphia’s young stars. On paper, a LeBron-led 76ers side would be the favorite in the East and would at least match up against the Warriors better than Cleveland did. And in their current forms – minus any other additions/subtractions – Philadelphia is better equipped to make a run at a title than Los Angeles. However, is that short-term glory worth the long-term impact on the Sixers promising potential?
Cleveland Cavaliers +425
Let’s be honest: LeBron has nothing left to prove and could easily stay in Cleveland for at least one more year. His return to The Land in 2014 brought them a championship and four straight trips to the finals. The Cavs just so happened to face the greatest team in NBA history in those finals and James did everything in his power to win those series. What else can we ask of him? He doesn’t need to ring chase. He’s beyond that.
There’s a lot of talk of Leonard being a key piece of the puzzle in LeBron’s landing spot, but little of that buzz mentions Cleveland as a destination. The Cavs are sniffing around the Spurs, who would love to deal him out of conference, and a Leonard trade could be reason enough to stay home.
New York Knicks +750
The Knicks were at the top of the board when “The Decision” rolled around in 2010, but since then New York seems like a laughable option for LeBron. Before you read ahead, consider the Heat were priced at +3,500 to land LeBron when similar prop markets opened in the spring of 2010. At that time, the Knicks were +300 to sign James. Just sayin’.
San Antonio Spurs +900
James and Pop would easily make the Spurs the smartest NBA team – if they weren’t already. But could the player/coach persona of LeBron work with the ultimate task master in Popovich? Ehhhh, I dunno.
Washington Wizards +1,200
LeBron and John Wall have the same agent. Hmmm…
The Field +750
This is always my favorite play for props and worth a flyer. Currently, BetDSI has 10 options on their LeBron 2018-19 team market, which means you get the other 20 NBA teams at the low, low price of +750. Buy in bulk, Costco style.
Other LeBron suitors
Los Angeles Clippers +3000
Miami Heat +4500
Oklahoma City Thunder +5000
Chicago Bulls +9500
Editor's note: This article was first published on Covers.com, a site also owned by Tribune.