Miami Tops NBA FuturesBy Alex H.
The Miami Heat will enter the offseason as the bookmakers’ favorite to win the 2015 NBA championship.
Despite coming up short in the NBA Finals this year, and despite having 13 players that could fly the coop this summer, Miami has been established as the early favorite. The South Florida side has been assigned 3/1 odds of lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy next June.
Meanwhile, the reigning champions are expected to be a contender once more next season. The Spurs sit at 6/1 to win the championship on the initial futures list, right alongside the Oklahoma City Thunder.
All three teams will be faced with questions heading into free agency.
The Spurs will wait on Tim Duncan to decide his player option. Don’t expect the five-time champion to be headed anywhere else, other than perhaps early retirement. Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Matt Bonner are also unrestricted free agents.
Oklahoma City will need to make a decision about Thabo Sefalosha and Caron Butler, while looking for a replacement for Derek Fisher.
Miami meanwhile could have a very different look next season. Team president Pat Riley is looking at 13 free agents this summer – including the ‘Big Three’, each of whom has a player option to opt out of his contract. Add to that the likes of Ray Allen, Chris Anderson, Mario Chalmers, Rashard Lewis and a retiring Shane Battier, and you might just get the picture.
Outside of the top three, the Los Angeles Clippers are expected to build on last year’s success, and hopefully draw away from the shadow of Donald Sterling. Los Angeles’ ‘other’ side is currently listed at 9/1 to win the championship.
The Chicago Bulls – patiently awaiting the return of Derrick Rose once more – and Indiana Pacers – looking to make up for a miserable series in the Eastern Conference finals – are both listed at 12/1.
At the other end of the spectrum, miserable seasons and high draft picks for the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers have the two sides at the bottom of the basketball futures list. The two sides have been assigned odds of 200/1 at this early stage.
After the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks all missed the playoffs for the first time in NBA history, each will be looking to rebound in the 2014-15 campaign. The Knicks and Lakers have each been assigned 40/1 odds while the Celtics sit at 50/1.
Of course, free agency is likely to have a big impact on these future odds before the new season tips off next fall.
A plethora of stars and talent sit alongside the trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Carmelo Anthony is perhaps the most prized catch (after James), while the likes of Lance Stephenson, Kyle Lowry, Eric Bledsoe, Luol Deng, and Zach Randolph will draw attention.
Veterans like Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Shawn Livingston, Richard Hamilton and Richard Jefferson could provide complimentary pieces to contenders. Dirk Nowitzki’s even an unrestricted free agent, although – like Duncan – it’s hard to see him playing anywhere else.
Find out more about which players will be making headlines during the summer with NBA.com’s free agent tracker.
The other big factor that could impact the futures is the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft.
On June 26, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, will be the setting for the most anticipated draft since 2003.
Most prognosticators expect Joel Embiid to go No. 1, landing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a side that’s just outside Bovada’s Top 10.
But with the likes of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, Nik Stauskus, and more there waiting to be picked, the draft has huge potential to upset the applecart.
Betting Sports will keep you updated with the NBA futures over the summer and heading into the new season.