Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Monday, July 2, 2018 at 4:00 PM
If you thought ESPN went overboard Sunday night with its coverage of LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, you should have seen the buzz here in Las Vegas when the news was announced. Fans of the team raced to sports books to jump on the bandwagon. Oddsmakers played defense as quickly as they could to avoid overexposure. When the dust had settled, the Lakers were about 7/2 (plus 350) to win the NBA championship next season.
Honestly, that’s NUTS! Even if the Lakers do manage to bring in Kawhi Leonard without losing too much talent in return, there’s no way LeBron, Leonard, and the other supporting players should be 7/2. Maybe 8/1 or 10/1. Don’t forget that LeBron is now playing in the much tougher Western Conference. In the East he had an automatic bye to the Finals every season.
The Lakers probably wouldn’t be pick-em in a best-of-seven series with Houston in the Western semifinals, and would be a clear underdog to Golden State in the Western Finals unless Steph Curry or Kevin Durant was out with an injury. Depending on what Boston and Philadelphia do roster-wise, the Lakers might not even be a clear favorite over the Eastern champs in the finals considering LeBron’s age and Leonard’s potential for injury because he plays so physically.
We’ll have to see. I’m pretty confident right now that…if the Lakers do make the playoffs…betting them to win the first round on the money line…then reloading in the second round…and reloading in the Western Finals…and then reloading in the NBA Finals would return a lot more than 7/2 should LA go the distance. Same general principal (Lakers must win every series to win the trophy). Sharper way to bet.
In some ways, this reminded me of the Vegas Golden Knights furor this past hockey season. It’s not a perfect parallel because VGK didn’t do anything close to signing a superstar before the season started. But, a lot of fans were betting with their hearts, or to have a ticket as a souvenir for a landmark season. Sports books weren’t pricing based on “true odds,” which they don’t do any way on futures very often…but were sitting on a number that only novices would take. Sure, exposure is going to be steep. Sports books are sitting pretty in this situation. After several weeks of sweating, they held onto all the money that had been bet on the Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup.
Think about it this way. Sports books are basically laying -350 that the Lakers won’t win the championship…in a sport where Golden State is still young and head and shoulders above the field.
How will sharps bet the Lakers this coming season? You can safely assume they’ll be fading inflated prices. LeBron is known to pace himself through the regular season anyway. It will take awhile for all the new pieces to figure out how to play together. Sharps will be rooting for Lakers’ opponents in most games during the first month, possibly the first three months, and possibly all season. Fading Cleveland went 49-32-1 last season.
Whenever you see the public go crazy like this…particularly a team that locals in Nevada love to root for and support…you’re going to be best positioned betting the other way. You’ll get free points in individual games. You’ll get free odds on the money line. I don’t usually recommend futures bets. But, Houston at 7/1 late Sunday night and early morning offered a more realistic return than the Lakers at 7/2.
Though the summer league starts in a few days, with all 30 NBA teams coming to Vegas for some televised scrimmages, I won’t be releasing plays in that league to customers. Too many question marks. And, too many customers don’t have access. I will stay focused on Major League Baseball. I’m on a nice 8-2 run since Wednesday, taking advantage of the struggling Orioles, and David Price’s inability to pitch under pressure.
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No doubt it’s going to be fun to watch Lakers game in sports books come November. You can imagine the energy during Kobe’s heyday, or in any sequence when the Lakers were a championship contender. The TV screens weren’t as big, nor the seats as comfortable, but I can still remember the Magic Johnson years. This is a Lakers town. Always has been. Always will be, unless Las Vegas gets its own NBA team down the road.
Thanks for reading. Celebrate July 4 responsibly and with your health in mind. Not too many carbs. Not too much of the stuff that washes down those carbs. See you again Friday.