LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are still playing against the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals, but rumors about his impending free agency are already circulating around the league. The 33-years-old superstar is expected to opt out into the final year his contract with the Cavaliers and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
In the past months, multiple signs have pointed out that LeBron James will leave his hometown team for the second time. According to Ben Fawkes of ESPN, the recent odds for from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook heated up the speculations that the “The King” will be wearing a different jersey next season. As everyone knows, James will consider signing with a team where he will have a higher chance of winning more NBA championships, and as of now, Cleveland is no longer an ideal place to stay for the aging superstar.
“When you have LeBron in free agency, you have to be careful,” Westgate SuperBook oddsmaker John Murray said. “You’ve got Philadelphia, Miami, the Lakers and even Houston as potential destinations [outside of Cleveland]. We cut all of those teams’ odds down, and we’ll raise back up the teams he doesn’t sign with.”
In the odds released by the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, the Warriors (5-4) are still the top favorite team to win the 2019 NBA title. But if James joins the Houston Rockets (7-2), who sit at No. 2 and are rumored to be one of LeBron’s free agency destination, they will beat Golden State for the best title odds provided that they also convince Chris Paul and Clint Capela to stay.
The Philadelphia 76ers (7-2) are tied with the Rockets at the No. 2 spot and will be expected to represent the Eastern Conference next season in the NBA Finals. Like the Rockets, the Sixers are also rumored to be on the list of teams that LeBron James could potentially sign with this summer. Philadelphia could boast the young core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Markelle Fultz. Even if they give James a maximum contract, the Sixers will still have enough salary cap space to chase another big name in the free agency market.
Another young NBA team who is expected to become a title favorite if they sign James is the Los Angeles Lakers (20-1). According to Murray, there is a growing optimism that Paul George will be heading to Los Angeles in the upcoming offseason. The superstar duo of George and James will give the Lakers the third-best odds in the Western Conference behind the Rockets and the Warriors.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers, who still have James under contract, only have 30-1 odds to win the 2019 NBA title, and if LeBron leaves, it will dramatically drop to 500-1. Unlike the teams mentioned above, Cleveland only has a little room to grow, making it less likely for James to wear the wine and gold again next season.