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Have you taken a glance at what the wild NBA futures market looks like? With so many key pieces of the puzzle not settled yet in free-agency or trades, the sportsbooks have been heavily relying on rumors to adjust their odds to win the 2018-19 NBA Championship. It’s top-heavy with five teams having single digit odds and everyone else in the league at 50-to-1 or higher.

“It’s been that way every season during the Golden State run,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook assistant manager Jeff Sherman, who took two max wagers on the Warriors to win the title as we were talking on the phone. The first wager was at +120 and then the same bettor wanted it again at +110. Because of all the free-agency unknowns, the Westgate is taking lower limits of the NBA futures until things shake out.

So now the Warriors are even money to win it all and in the process, Sherman raised odds on a couple other teams to keep their theoretic hold percentage at 27 percent – the Lakers moved from 7-to-1 up to 8-1 and the Rockets from 4-1 up to 9-2. Standing still was the Celtics at 4-1 and the Sixers are 6-1. After that, it’s a sharp fall off the odds cliff to the Spurs and Cavaliers at 50-1 and then the Raptors are 60-1.

The Lakers have been the hot topic team over the past few days with rumors of LeBron James enrolling his kid in a Los Angeles prep school, a sign the Lakers might be the team he goes to.

“Nah, I think that was proven to be another one of those false rumors,” said Sherman who is used to the NBA free-agency rumor game the past few years. He said he was on top of it with the Celtics when they last won the Championship as well as LeBron going to Miami, but he was caught off guard on LeBron to the Cavs four years ago.

In addition to LeBron possibly going to the Lakers, the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard has also been rumored to go there as well.

“We opened the Lakers at 20-1 figuring they would make some moves and when the Kawhi thing started we dropped them to 10-1 and got as low as 7-1 due to action coming in, likely mostly due to LeBron rumors,” Sherman said.

Paul George is also out there and is friendly with LeBron and Kevin Durant can opt-out of his Warriors deal, but is expected to re-sign in a larger deal. So LeBron is basically working behind the scenes to find a new basketball home he can play with his buddies, have a good relationship with the owner and GM and basically run the team and be the coach.

I thought Philly would be the perfect place for him because he could have a huge impact on all the young kids that would listen to him. The move here would be Philly signing his buddy from Cleveland, David Griffin, who he worked with to build the championship team but was fired exactly this time last season. LeBron didn’t like the move by owner Dan Gilbert.

Another reason I thought about Philly as being the main destination for LeBron is because of his ego and capping off his legacy. Philly is ready to win now and LeBron makes them a championship team. He likes his active eight-year NBA Finals streak and going to the Lakers puts that in danger because of being in the tough Western Conference where we just saw the super-friends of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George fizzle in Oklahoma City.

The best bet for LeBron is in Philly. It’s an easier path to the Finals.

Koepka great to books

Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open for the second consecutive year for the first time since Curtis Strange did it in 1989. Despite winning it last season, he wasn’t a popular choice with bettors, which helped books do extremely well.

“He was coming back from a wrist injury that kept him out of The Masters and was 40-1 at one point. We adjusted him down to 25-1 closer to the start of the tournament,” said Sherman, who said his book held better than 20 percent on the futures prices. He said they broke even with the match-ups and held well to the other props.

The U.S Open decisions coupled with Germany losing 1-0 to Mexico in World Cup action paved the way for a very good day.

World Cup fun

By the way, this is the first World Cup ever to see Germany, Argentina and Brazil not win their opening matches. These games have been insanely good and have me doubting a poor decision I made two years ago not to go to Russia with friends. However, the intensity of the crowds each place I’ve watched gives further proof there are more Americans appreciating soccer than being reported by a few who dislike it because they don’t score enough.

The good news for the books is the games have been close and the underdogs are showing up, a stark contrast from the early happenings in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup when almost every favorite covered the first week of action. There were huge parlays cashing daily with bettors linking a few days together simply taking the favorites.

The World Cup is always a welcome sight from the books in the slow months of June-July every four years when bookmakers are sweating daily MLB, counting down the days until the more profitable pre-season football starts.

PN bookmaking?

Last week I mentioned a few sportsbook operations that may flourish with PASPA being repealed last month, and most of them were companies already active in getting their plan out there. One group I didn’t mention was Penn National and their 32 casinos/racetracks across the country, which include the M Resort and Tropicana in Las Vegas, simply because they’re not doing anything yet that I know of. They have three properties in New Jersey and nothing was in place to book while Monmouth Park and the Borgata took the state’s first legal sports wagers on Thursday. Phone calls to Penn National were not returned for comment.

The most logical angle I can come up with is having CG Technology books set up their operations since they run the M Resort and Tropicana sportsbooks. But both those properties get a huge amount from an egregious lease deal that CGT agreed to years ago, a deal PN would probably love to have again, but one CGT likely isn’t ready to offer.

Penn National’s best deal would probably be to hire a team from Las Vegas, start their own book and not share profits with anyone. Rumors of William Hill jumping in to run it all have been in the air. However, do it yourself is the best way, and that’s not a knock on any of the operations that do the satellite book thing well.

Why share your money, especially when a sports betting bill passes in Pennsylvania where they have three properties and there’s a 36 percent gaming tax. They are too big to share. The rewards of booking sports are small. Sometimes the book loses.

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