Lakers become blue-chip stock in NBA futures

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Now I know what it must have been like to be Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

You know, having your head spinning.

When the NBA’s free agency period hit Sunday afternoon and the deals started flying and the odds in future books across America started changing, you couldn’t keep up with the news.

Things were happening so fast, so many players were changing addresses, even my buddy Adrian Wojnarowski wasn’t able to tweet fast enough.

But amid all the drama that surrounded a celebration in the borough of Brooklyn and despair at 2 Penn Plaza in Manhattan, there remains a certain amount of uncertainty as the 30 teams retool their rosters.

Where will Kawhi Leonard go? And how does the balance of power shift once he makes up his mind?

As of Sunday night, the Lakers remained the future book favorites in Las Vegas. The Lakers, who have Anthony Davis to ride shotgun for LeBron James, are even money at the Westgate SuperBook.

The Warriors, who are essentially going to rebuild around the original core which netted them dynasty status — Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — are falling like a bad stock. Golden State, which was 7-4 two months ago, is currently 14-1.

Kevin Durant will play for the Nets and will eventually join Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan on Flatbush Avenue. I’m guessing Junior’s has already named a cheesecake in K.D.’s honor. And this will be Irving’s team, make no mistake about it. With Russell heading to join Curry, Thompson and Green in San Francisco, the Nets will be in the hands of Irving. That is until Durant returns to action.

That was the big news. There were a lot of other moves that didn’t draw as big a headline as what Brooklyn did. For instance, the Kings spent $150 million to bring Harrison Barnes, Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon to Sacramento. Yeah, that’ll get them over the hump.

The Celtics said hello to Kemba Walker and goodbye to Al Horford. The 76ers bid Jimmy Butler and JJ Reddick adios and welcomed Horford and kept Tobias Harris in Philly.

And then there are the Knicks.

They thought they were getting Durant and Irving. They thought they were possibly in play for Leonard. They stunk and it got them R.J. Barrett with the third pick in the draft.

But it’s not like they stood around and did nothing. They signed Julius Randle for $63 million. They welcomed Bobby Portis to the Garden. And they gave Taj Gibson a reason to move to Westchester. Total for the trio? A tidy $114 million.

But there’s still some intrigue left in this year’s free agency frenzy. And that’s Mr. Leonard.

Will he head back to California, and if so, which locker room at Staples Center will he use? It seems unlikely he’s going to return to Toronto. The Knicks? Nope.

If Leonard decides to play for the Clippers, boy does that spice things up in Southern California. If he opts for the Lakers, they truly are the team to beat.

And what if something crazy like Golden State happens? What if Curry reaches out to Leonard and convinces him to play in Northern California in a brand-new, state-of-the-art arena and practice facility in San Francisco? All of a sudden, Durant and Andre Igoudala would be a distant memory.

As for the NBA future book now, my advice would be tread lightly. The value on the Lakers left weeks ago when they traded for Davis. 

The Nets may have bolstered their roster but Durant is a year away which is why the SuperBook has Brooklyn at 30-1 despite the announcement of Durant, Irving and Jordan coming to Barclays Center.

But if you think the Clippers can get Leonard and they move up, maybe you take a shot at 16-1. Or if you liked the subtle moves Utah has made trading for Mike Conley and signing Bojan Bogdanovic and Ed Davis as free agents, grab the 20-1 that’s out there.

Hey, it’s your money. Spend it however you wish. Me? I’m going to enjoy the pre-4th of July fireworks show and wait for the blockbuster explosion that will be Kawhi’s decision.

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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