For a while there, it seemed like LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were closing the gap between themselves and the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
James played his hand by agreeing to join the Lakers this past weekend. Since then, Los Angeles added the likes of Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson to the mix. This changed their playoff and championship odds in a big way.
But as people were just recovering from the news of James taking his talents to Hollywood, the Warriors themselves dropped a bomb. Using their mid-level exception, the defending champs signed four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year, $5.3 million contract.
It adds one of the most skilled centers in Association history to a position that has been a weakness for the Warriors in recent years. It will also give Golden State five All-Stars in the starting lineup once Cousins returns from the Achilles injury he suffered last season.
In what can’t be considered too much of a surprise, the Cousins’ signing immediately made Golden State overwhelming title favorites once again. Really, the difference between these Warriors and other top-end contenders is pretty wide.
Source: Westgate Las Vegas Superbook
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 3, 2018
What does this mean? If you were to put $10,000 down on the Warriors, you’d win only $5,714 if they three-peated next season.
Despite not adding anyone of substance as of yet, Boston comes in with the second-best odds. Though, both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returning from injury played a role in the Celtics receiving such high odds. James and the Lakers come in No. 3, ahead of the Houston Rockets. That is also a tad surprising.
A lot of things can change between now and the start of the 2018-19 season. But it certainly seems like everyone is battling it out for second place behind Golden State. That’s the sad reality for the Association’s other 29 fan bases.