With LeBron, Lakers suddenly a betting favorite

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) in game three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. (Reuters pic)

LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Lakers won a grand total of 35 games last season in the NBA’s always-tough Western Conference, but guess who just became one of the oddsmakers’ favourites to win it all next season?

With the announcement of LeBron James’ decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and head for Los Angeles with a four-year, $154 million contract in tow, the betting lines have changed seismically in Las Vegas.

While the Golden State Warriors, winners of three of the last four NBA titles, remain the favourites at minus-110 — meaning that a gambler would have to wager $110 to win $100 — the Lakers and the Boston Celtics are next at 7/2, followed by the Rockets at 7/1.

After James’ management agency, Klutch Sports Group, made the announcement about the superstar’s decision, the Lakers announced that they had re-signed shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and signed free-agent swingman Lance Stephenson, who has been with several teams, most recently the Indiana Pacers.

And yet to come is where San Antonio big man Kawhi Leonard will end up. He reportedly wants to play for the Lakers, but he is still under contract to the Spurs.

The Lakers last won a championship in 2010. James has played in eight straight NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference, with the Miami Heat and then with the Cavaliers.

Oh, and the Cavaliers’ odds? Try 500/1.