The NBA offseason isn’t over yet. But with most free agents off the board, the NBA futures odds still point toward a Nets-Lakers Finals in 2022.
While Brooklyn hasn’t made any significant moves, the Nets remain title favorites across all books. They just have to hope Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden can stay healthy.
Brooklyn lost respected veteran Jeff Green to the Nuggets, but added sharpshooter Patty Mills and retained Blake Griffin up front. GM Sean Marks still has a little bit of work to do in rounding out the roster, but the Nets appear primed to rebound after their disappointing playoff exit last season.
“I like what Brooklyn’s done,” former Suns GM Ryan McDonough, who is doing analyst work for NBATV and other outlets, told Catena Media. “They had some financial challenges (their roster is very top-heavy in terms of salaries), but winning the battle for Mills over the Lakers and Warriors was a really good piece of business.”
LA made arguably the most eye-opening move so far this summer, adding tantalizing star Russell Westbrook in a blockbuster trade. GM Rob Pelinka also brought in Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Kendrick Nunn, and several veteran shooters to compliment LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers moved from +425 to +400 on BetMGM (NJ) to win it all following their flurry of activity.
Updated betting odds on the 2021-22 Nets
Here is a look at the best odds for the NBA title currently at New Jersey online sportsbooks; NY sports betting apps are not yet available, but there is retail betting at brick and mortar casinos:
The Nets’ Big Three of Durant, Irving, and Harden played just 332 minutes together out of a possible 4,062 last season. That needs to change.
The trio is extension-eligible this summer, and in line for potential contracts totaling over $500 million. Of course, owner Joe Tsai has a net worth of $10.6 billion and just bought a $157 million apartment overlooking Central Park. So he can afford it. Locking the trio up would go a long way toward easing the nerves of Brooklyn fans and extending the team’s title window.
A supporting cast grows in Brooklyn
Griffin (one year, veteran’s minimum), who could start at center, is back on the cheap, as is key reserve Bruce Brown (one year, $4.7 million). Mills (two years, $12 million) brings championship pedigree and 3-point marksmanship from San Antonio.
Brooklyn needs intriguing youngster Nic Claxton to take another step forward following a promising sophomore campaign. James Johnson (vet. min.) should bring some much-needed toughness to the floor. Joe Harris needs to shake off a disappointing showing from downtown against the Bucks.
With Spencer Dinwiddie heading to Washington, the Nets will receive another asset or two in a sign-and-trade deal TBD (it ended up being a second-rounder, a future swap and an $11.5 million trade exception). They have been trying, unsuccessfully so far, to offload DeAndre Jordan (two years, $20 million left), sources confirmed. Late first-round picks Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe (from the Landry Shamet trade) will be interesting to watch. Granted, rookies often don’t factor into contender’s postseason rotations. The pressure will once again be on coach Steve Nash to make it all work, this time without mentor Mike D’Antoni by his side.
Miami (with newcomers Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker), defending champion Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Atlanta figure to be Brooklyn’s stiffest competition in what should be a deeper conference than usual.
Knicks still a longshot
The homecoming of Bronx native Kemba Walker made for a nice story Wednesday morning. And if Walker’s balky knees can hold up, he will easily remain a fan favorite. His acquisition (at two years, $16-18 million, per McDonough) also made the Knicks’ offseason look better.
“The Knicks really shifted my perception of their offseason today,” McDonough said. “Anytime you can get a player of that caliber for less than mid-level money, it’s a home run. There’s a lot of upside and little if any downside.”
Still, the Bockers are listed at +10,000 to win the title at FanDuel. Those Knicks odds could certainly change down the line if disgruntled superstar Damian Lillard requests a trade to New York. But for now, they’re a longshot.
After an incredible season that saw them finish fourth in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks basically added Evan Fournier (four years, $78 million) and subtracted Elfrid Payton (wise). They also wisely added team options on the end of deals for Nerlens Noel (three years, $32 million), Alec Burks (three years, $30 million), Derrick Rose (three years, $43 million) and Fournier, providing future flexibility. Not exactly moving the needle, though Cardiac Kemba in The Big Apple is already creating a palpable buzz.
Let’s see if coach Tom Thibodeau can work more of his magic in Year 2 at the helm.