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How Will 2022 NBA Odds Change When Free Agency Deadlock Ends?

A month ago, we analyzed which NBA teams’ 2023 championship odds would be most impacted by Kevin Durant’s trade request. Following a dynamic first week of free agency, offseason action has come to a screeching halt — at least for now. 

Dimers.com contributor Mac Douglass explains what needs to happen to end the current logjam in the NBA trade market, and breaks down which teams’ 2023 odds will be most impacted in the aftermath. 

 

Kevin Durant and Rudy Gobert Have Stopped Player Movement in its Tracks

At a glance, Durant and Gobert’s situations could hardly seem more different. Gobert, the league’s best defender, has already been dealt. Durant, the league’s best scorer, remains its top trade target. Despite their seemingly disconnected situations, the ‘Slim Reaper’ and ‘Stifle Tower’ have brought player movement in the 2022 NBA offseason to a grinding halt. How?

Prior to this offseason, it was fairly uncommon for NBA teams to part with unprotected first round draft picks unless a bona fide superstar was furnished in return. On June 29th that began to change when the Atlanta Hawks dealt two unprotected first rounders to the San Antonio Spurs for Dejounte Murray. On July 6th it changed for good, when the Minnesota Timberwolves traded four unprotected first rounders, four role players, and a 2026 pick swap, for Rudy Gobert. 

Gobert and Murray are All Stars, but neither is a superstar. Kevin Durant is. 

If Durant is better than Gobert, and Gobert still commanded one of the biggest trade hauls in NBA history, what team could possibly afford to offer what Durant is worth?

None, seems to be the answer. 

Hence the lack of a Durant trade. 

Hence the league-wide deadlock.

As long as KD is available, sellers are unmotivated to part with on-the-block stars like Donovan Mitchell, Myles Turner, and Kyrie Irving, who command less value when a superior option is on the market. Once KD is removed, still-available stars will move up the pecking order, commanding better packages, leading to league-altering trades. Informed, quick moving bettors can clean up. 

NBA Teams to Watch in 2022

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are unique on this list in that they’re the only legitimate title contender. In the immediate aftermath of Durant’s trade request, no major sportsbook gave Brooklyn top 5 odds at the 2023 title. However, as the likelihood of Durant staying put has gotten better, so have the Nets’ odds. Brooklyn is now at +1400; should they retain Durant and Irving, that should climb to the +600 range, just below Boston and Golden State. 

New York Knicks

Besides Durant, Utah guard Donovan Mitchell is by far the best available trade asset, and the Knicks have been his top suitor since day one. Currently sitting at +10000, if the Knicks swing a deal for Mitchell based around the eight tradable first round picks at New York’s disposal, as opposed to young talent, their odds for next season will improve. 

But don’t buy the hype. 

Mitchell would share a backcourt with Jalen Brunson, another offense-first, defensively lacking guard. Teams with two such players hoarding cap space simply don’t win championships. Just ask the James Harden/Chris Paul Rockets. Or the James Harden/Russell Westbrook Rockets. Or the Russell Westbrook/Bradley Beal Wizards. Or the Bradley Beal/John Wall Wizards. Or the Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum…

Portland Trail Blazers

Like the Knicks, the Blazers are a non-contender poised to go all-in for 2023. Unlike the Knicks, for Portland it makes sense. Desperate not to squander the final years of Lillard’s prime, Portland is on the hunt for a defensive stopper. 

Enter Myles Turner. With Indiana in scorched-earth rebuild mode, Portland is the obvious candidate to land the Pacers’ longtime rim protector, which would cause Portland’s +8000 odds to increase dramatically. 

Regardless of how their offseason pans out, Portland won’t compete for a title in 2023, but savvy betters can find value taking the over on regular season wins for next year, if Portland manages to get the Turner deal done. 

Los Angeles Lakers

This one is more of an honorable mention, as all signs point to the Lakers entering next season with the same James, Davis, Westbrook core that disappointed last year. Then again, the Lakers are never far from making a splash, and with Lebron somehow maintaining his ultra-elite level, Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka should be highly motivated to shake things up for 2023. If Durant is dealt, Kyrie Irving will almost certainly follow, and it’s well known Lebron is eager to reunite with his Cleveland-era co-star. 

So keep an eye on the Lakers. But keep your money far, far away. 

Unless, that is, Westbrook is out the door.

 

Where will Kevin Durant play next season? (odds from August 5)

Boston Celtics -175
Brooklyn Nets -140
Phoenix Suns +350
Golden State Warriors +400
Toronto Raptors +900
Memphis Grizzlies +1200
Los Angeles Clippers +1400
New York Knicks +1600
Atlanta Hawks +1600
L.A. Lakers +1800
Oklahoma City Thunder +2200
Chicago Bulls +2200

Where will Kevin Durant play next season? (odds from July 11)

Phoenix Suns +110
Brooklyn Nets +250
Toronto Raptors +400
Golden State Warriors +1400
Miami Heat +1400
Chicago Bulls +2000
Portland Trail Blazers +2000
New Orleans Pelicans +2200
Philadelphia 76ers +2500
L.A. Lakers +3000
Boston Celtics +3000
Memphis Grizzlies +3000
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