The Golden State Warriors just made their case as the greatest NBA team of all time, following a 67-win regular season with a 16-1 romp through the postseason capped by an overwhelming five-game victory over LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017 NBA Finals. And with the champagne, cigar and beer haze just starting to lift by the Bay, it looks like the oddsmakers in Las Vegas believe next year’s Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy ceremony will look a lot like the one we just wached.
From David Purdum of ESPN.com:
The Warriors, fresh off Monday night’s 129-120 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers to clinch the NBA title, are listed as -200, odds-on favorites to win next year’s championship, a historic price on a preseason favorite.
“They’re going to be the highest favorite we’ve ever had going into a season, any team in any sport,” Jeff Sherman, NBA oddsmaker at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, told ESPN. […]
The Cavaliers are the clear-cut No. 2 favorites to win next year’s title, at 3-1 at the SuperBook. Cleveland and Golden State are the only teams with single-digit odds.
The San Antonio Spurs are next at 12-1, followed by the Boston Celtics at 15-1. Every other team is listed at 30-1 or more.
According to betting site OddsShark, the Warriors are the same flavor of favorite at several other bookmakers, boasting -150 or -155 odds of repeating as champion at Bovada, BetOnline and 5Dimes. The Cavs remain their closest competition there, with odds ranging from +275 to +450, easily the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season.
Such instant odds are obviously subject to significant shifting between now and the start of the 2017-18 season in October, especially as rosters shift after free agency opens in July.
The Warriors have eight players about to enter unrestricted free agency: two-time Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry, Sixth Man of the Year finalist Andre Iguodala, key reserve guard Shaun Livingston, starting center Zaza Pachulia, backup guard Ian Clark, reserve centers David West and JaVale McGee, and late-season pickup/veteran swingman Matt Barnes. Newly minted NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant can also opt out of the final year of his existing contract to enter the free-agent market for the second consecutive summer.
It’s long been widely expected that the Warriors will re-sign Curry on a five-year, super-maximum salary extension that will pay the point guard more than $200 million over the next five seasons. Durant said before the Finals that he plans to stay in Golden State next season and beyond, though how exactly his contract will be laid out remains to be seen.
Iguodala’s likely to return, too. He said in April that “there’s not going to be any issue” with keeping the Warriors’ core pieces together, and suggested last week that he, Curry and Durant would be speaking with the media covering the Warriors again during the first week of July — presumably after inking their new deals to stay in Golden State and rejoin Klay Thompson (signed through the end of the 2018-19 season) and Draymond Green (locked in through 2019-20) in pursuit of more championship trophies.
“There’s no doubt in my mind [the deals will get done],” Green told Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group. “[…] When you’re trying to build a dynasty, if you’ve got to change your pieces every year, it makes it a little tougher. It’s very important. But that time will come. It’s not right now.”
Running it back promises to be exceptionally expensive for Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber — an estimated $72 million in luxury tax payments next year, and more than $1 billion (with a B!) in combined salary and luxury tax commitments over the next four years, according to Bobby Marks of The Vertical — but for now, they’re saying the right things about being committed to shelling out what’s needed to keep the titles coming.
The Cavs, too, will face some difficult financial decisions. Their core is locked in, with the starting five of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith, as well as reserves Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson, all under contract for next season. But Cleveland appears to need to find some way to bolster its bench and talent base to stand a chance of topping the Dubs next year, which promises to be difficult to come by for a team that’s already well over the salary cap and doesn’t have a pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Will owner Dan Gilbert blanch at the notion of shelling out nearly nine figures in luxury tax payments next year for a team that seems like it might have only a puncher’s chance of winning it all?
It seems right now like we’re talking about a two-team-at-best race for the crown, but interesting things can happen during the summer. (Chris Paul to San Antonio? The Celtics striking gold with Markelle Fultz and a max free-agent or two? Another plate-shifting move nobody’s pegged just yet?) Should the Warriors’ and Cavs’ cores suffer some defections while a couple of other prospective contenders fortify their rotations, these far-too-early lines could well shift dramatically.
For now, though, it looks like the 2017-18 season will start in much the same way the last two have: with the Warriors at the top of the gambling mountain, and everybody else looking way, way up.
More NBA Finals coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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