Vegas: Cavs favored to win 2016 NBA title
by Will Gibson
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost the 2015 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors in the first year of the LeBron James/Kevin Love/Kyrie Irving experiment. Based on what they did this year and the roster that they project to bring back, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has installed them as 9-4 favorites to win it all next year, per ESPN.
The now-reigning champion Warriors have the second-best odds at 5-1, tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Other teams with favorable odds include the Los Angeles Clippers (10-1), San Antonio Spurs (12-1), and Chicago Bulls (12-1). The two teams that lost in the Conference Finals, the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets, both have 20-1 odds.
Jeff Sherman, the SuperBook assistant manager and NBA oddsmaker, seems bullish on the Cavaliers next season.
“Look at what they’re doing without Love and Irving,” Sherman told ESPN Chalk. “We’ve seen with the Heat, where the first year LeBron didn’t win. Usually, things improve, chemistry improves. We just expect that they’ll be that much better next year and actually have some separation between other teams, assuming that they’re healthy.”
Bovada has the Cavs as the favorites as well, albeit at a slightly different number.
The Cavs’ odds could certainly change before the 2015-16 season kicks off, due in no small part to the roster decisions they have to make this offseason. LeBron James and Kevin Love are the most prominent free agents, and the team also has to decide what to do with Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and Matthew Dellavedova, all restricted free agents. The Cavaliers also have a first-round pick in next Thursday’s NBA Draft.
James is expected to come back, Love has said that he wants to, and it would be a shock if the team let Tristan Thompson get away. J.R. Smith has a $6.4 million player option for next season, though he suggested after Game 6 Tuesday that he would opt out with intent to re-sign; he would presumably want to do so at a higher salary, at which the team may balk. The Cavs would likely welcome back Shumpert and even Dellavedova at the right price, though teams looking for backcourt defense might throw relatively big numbers at the Cavs guards.
Either way, the Cavaliers are the favorites going into next season. Next year can’t come soon enough.
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