In just a few days of action, the NBA landscape has changed dramatically. Bradley Beal is now on the Phoenix Suns. Damian Lillard is on his way out of Portland. Draymond Green will return to the Golden State Warriors, as we predicted. Let’s dive into the top NBA free agency and trade news from the last few weeks with an eye to any 2023-24 NBA Championship odds movement at DraftKings Sportsbook.
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NBA Free Agency & Trade News Lead to 2023-24 Championship Odds Movement
Teams That Got Better
Although they haven't officially acquired superstar point guard Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers quite yet, no team has seen their odds improve more than the Miami Heat to this point in free agency. Their title odds have skyrocketed by a whopping 4.7% at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Heat have actually lost more players than they've picked up to this point. Gabe Vincent just signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, while Max Strus inked a deal with an Eastern Conference rival, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Heat also lost out on the Bradley Beal sweepstakes as well. They re-signed Kevin Love and brought in Josh Richardson, but those signings definitely don't explain the favorable odds movement for Miami.
The market movement suggests sharp bettors believe the Lillard to Miami deal is done -- or that the Heat have something else cooked up. With how much Lillard has given up for the Trail Blazers organization, it'd be hard to fathom the team shipping Lillard off anywhere he doesn't want to go.
The Phoenix Suns decided to move on from Chris Paul, but the team's acquisition of Bradley Beal was more than enough to offset the move. Although the Paul and Beal moves are the biggest ones we've seen out of Phoenix so far, they're not the only moves the team has made. Damion Lee, Josh Okogie, Cameron Payne, Ish Wainright and Jock Landale should all stay in town. But aside from retaining them, Phoenix has done an impressive job of addressing its issues with depth.
Other notable additions for Phoenix include signed big wing Yuta Watanabe, who brings both size and perimeter shooting. Watanabe was reportedly one of the team's primary targets. The Suns also brought in Chimezie Metu, a versatile player who can handle duties at both the four and five, along with Keita Bates-Diop, another big wing. Center Drew Eubanks also received a contract. The moves give Phoenix some much-needed depth in the frontcourt.
The favorable line movement for Phoenix makes sense. Paul showed his age at points last season, especially with his late-season injury struggles, so Beal provides some much-needed support in the backcourt. Although the quartet of Metu, Watanabe, Bates-Diop and Eubanks aren't the most exciting players, Phoenix was seriously hurting for bench minutes after shipping off so much talent to bring in Kevin Durant.
In a heartbreaking move for Boston Celtics fans, the team moved on from fan-favorite point guard Marcus Smart in a deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis over from the Washington Wizards. Although Porzingis provides a unique skill set and a massive 7-foot-2 frame, losing Smart, a versatile defender and veritable sparkplug, could hurt the Celtics -- but the market doesn't seem worried.
Smart's departure opens the door for Malcolm Brogdon or Derrick White to take over starting duties at the one. But Brogdon's injury issues, which were severe enough to nix an earlier Porzingis deal, could keep him off the floor early. That would leave the Celtics thin in the backcourt, with only Payton Pritchard and Jaylen Brown left to pick up minutes. The Celtics are likely to add another guard to the mix before the season begins -- but it remains unclear who exactly they'll add.
Teams That Stayed the Same | 2023-24 NBA Championship Odds
Although trade rumors were swirling around LeBron James earlier in the offseason, those have died down considerably following the 2023-24 NBA draft. The Lakers didn't make any major moves during the draft, but they've made enough noise early in free agency to keep their current NBA championship odds at 12-1 on DraftKings.
The Lakers kept wing Rui Hachimura and guard D'Angelo Russell while finding a way to bring in guard Gabe Vincent from Miami, big wing Taurean Prince from Minnesota, center Jaxson Hayes from New Orleans and wing Cam Reddish from New York. The moves give L.A. some much-needed quality depth players, which should help take the pressure off LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would rank among the NBA's best teams -- if this were a 4-on-4 league. Unfortunately for them, it's not, and they've struggled to find a fifth starter at wing. Isaac Okoro often filled that role in the regular season but got played off the floor in the postseason. They have made some moves to address that issue, but nothing enough to warrant odds movement in their favor.
The Cavaliers retained wing Caris LeVert while bringing in wings Georges Niang from Philadelphia and Max Strus from Miami. They parted ways with big wing Cedi Osman in the deal for Strus. Both Strus and Niang are perimeter specialists with somewhat limited defensive skillsets, so while they'll offer an upgrade over Okoro offensively, it's unlikely that they'll replicate what he produced defensively.
Teams That Got Worse
No team has seen their 2023-24 title odds worsen more than the Milwaukee Bucks. While part of that is because their odds opened so high, their relatively disappointing offseason also deserves some blame. The Bucks agreed to a contract with veteran wing Khris Middleton and center Brook Lopez but lost guard Jevon Carter and wing Joe Ingles.
So what can the Bucks do to fix this trend? A few veteran names like Eric Gordon or Russell Westbrook could provide some help in the backcourt. Elsewhere, Dillon Brooks, Grant Williams and Torrey Craig could provide some help as viable 3-and-D players. That said, it's difficult to see any combination of those players getting the Bucks back to the odds of 13-2 where they opened.
The sports betting world is full of bias. One of this year's most fun teams, the Sacramento Kings, has meaningfully improved their roster in free agency but isn't getting rewarded for it, likely because they're a small-market team that makes unconventional moves like acquiring superstars from Europe. The 2023-24 NBA championship odds should have moved in their favor but haven't.
The Kings retained big wings Harrison Barnes and Trey Lyles while moving off Richaun Holmes for some salary relief and parting ways with Chimezie Metu. They also brought in the reigning EuroLeague MVP, Sasha Vezenkov, a sharpshooting wing who resembles a bigger Bogdan Bogdanovic, and added wing Chris Duarte via trade.
The Kings now have a much better roster than they did heading into last season. De'Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell are an elite tandem at the one. Domantas Sabonis should hold things down at the five, but when he needs a rest, Lyles or a possible low-end signing at center should prove more than serviceable. A deep, diverse rotation at wing that features names like Barnes, Duarte, Vezenkov, Malik Monk, Kevin Huerter and Keegan Murray gives the Kings enough depth to put together another strong regular-season campaign -- and, potentially, a title run.
Several Western Conference Contenders Trending Down
Although no individual team has fallen further than the Bucks, several Western Conference contenders have seen their odds lengthen meaningfully, likely a response to the Suns trending up. The Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies have all seen their odds lengthen by a combined 2.5%.
None of these four teams have made a splash to this point in the offseason. Three of them have made moves -- the Mavericks retained guard Kyrie Irving, the Warriors retained center Draymond Green and the Grizzlies both acquired Marcus Smart and re-signed Desmond Bane. The fourth, the Clippers, have talked about making several moves, including shipping off Paul George or bringing in Chris Paul.