Dan Favale |  Tue 09/01/2018 - 17:20 EST

NBA Trends and Rumors: Trade Deadline Could Rattle Playoff Landscape for 2018

NBA Trends and Rumors: Trade Deadline Could Rattle Playoff Landscape for 2018
Welcome to our inaugural installment of NBA rumors and trends, a weekly look at the latest happenings in the Association, and how they impact championship odds, MVP chances, game lines and other pertinent betting fronts. With the trade deadline less than one month away, we tip things off with a look at the ever-churning rumor mill, and the long-term ramifications of the hottest chatter currently floating around out there.

NBA odds and game lines come courtesy of Bovada or TopBet unless otherwise cited.

SA Spurs (+1400) – Kawhi Leonard Injured…Again

Spurs

Okay, so, this isn’t actually about a trade rumor, nor can it be tied to one. The San Antonio Spurs aren’t known for making midseason splashes. But losing Kawhi Leonard again, this time to a shoulder injury, is significant.

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year suffered a partial tear in his left shoulder, according to ESPN.com’s Michael C. Wright. The Spurs, in true Spurs fashion, have no idea when he’ll return, but sources told Wright the team isn’t concerned about the severity of the latest setback—sentiments head coach Gregg Popovich reiterated while speaking with reporters.

This, in a nutshell, means nothing. The Spurs are a closed-door entity when it comes to injuries. Public optimism seldom carries real weight. They were glass-half-full all the time while Leonard was missing the first 27 games on the season.

Given the latest injury, you can all but write Leonard (+5000) out of the MVP discussion. He’s already missed too much time to garner serious consideration, and this most recent absence, however long it lasts, torpedoes those already-ebbing chances.

More importantly, though, be sure to monitor the Spurs’ championship odds. They’ll contend for a top-three playoff seed no matter how long Leonard is out, but they don’t register as a smart investment unless their payout moves closer to +2000. Both the Minnesota Timberwolves (+6000) and Oklahoma City Thunder (+2500) are nipping at their heels in the standings, and it’d be foolish to bank on the Spurs legitimately challenging the Houston Rockets (+800) or Golden State Warriors (-225) without a fully healthy Leonard.

LA Lakers (+50000) – Front Office Gave Up On This Year And Is Ready For A Fire Sale

Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers always figured to be among the most active teams ahead of the NBA’s February trade deadline. They have designs on creating two max-contract slots this summer and must lop off some serious salary to do so. With Julius Randle speeding toward restricted free agency, and with Jordan Clarkson and Luol Deng soaking up ample long-term money, opportunistic and aggressive projected as their default settings.

But some weren’t so convinced of inevitable activity. The Lakers, after all, started the season on a miniature tear. Perhaps they would hold serve in favor of chasing a playoff berth.

So much for that.

In the aftermath of a horrendous stretch that has destroyed their postseason hopes and championship odds, the Lakers are ready to deal, according to ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The players primary on the chopping block: Clarkson, Randle and Larry Nance Jr. Deng is available as well, obviously, but the Lakers have, for the time being, ditched any hopes of moving him.

Whether Los Angeles actually pulls the trigger on a salary dump doesn’t matter. This news reinforces what its fast-plummeting record already suggested: The team is throwing in the towel on this season and should no longer be colored as a viable futures bet of any kind—not even as a win-totals flyer. 

Los Angeles Clippers (+50000) – DeAndre Jordan Trade Market Grinding To A Slow Halt

clippers

Don’t be fooled by the Los Angeles Clippers’ long-shot odds. They’re not dead yet. 

Blake Griffin is dealing with another injury, this one a concussion, but he’s not expected to miss much time, and they’ve managed to win some games in absence. They’re very much within proximity of a Western Conference playoff spot, trailing the currently eighth place New Orleans Pelicans (+20000) by only two games.

Hence, then, why they don’t appear in any rush to trade DeAndre Jordan. Most expected the free-agent-to-be to finish the season on another team. He turns 30 in July and his window no longer seems to align with that of the Clippers. But, as Wojnarowski noted, the market for his services is unimpressive at best. 

Suitors aren’t willing to fork over ample value for a flight risk, and the league is oversaturated with big men. The Clippers, as a result, haven’t ruled out keeping Jordan long term. So don’t remove them from your betting arsenal just yet. They shouldn’t be a championship staple by any means, but until they show a concrete willingness to deal Jordan, as well as Lou Williams, they should be treated as playoff hopefuls. 

New York Knicks (+20000) – Orange And Blue View Themselves As Buyers 

knicks

The New York Knicks should absolutely, positively, unequivocally be tanking. This is the final year of the NBA’s current lottery-odds structure, and despite a relatively pleasant start, they find themselves on the outskirts of the Eastern Conference’s playoff bubble.

A smart team, with respectable foresight, would hold a fire sale at the trade deadline, buoy this season’s lottery odds and push forward into next season with a core of Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr. and another top pick from this June’s draft class.

But the Knicks, it seems, aren’t a smart team. They’re currently working the phones for midseason upgrades, according to Wojnarowski. They’ve also contemplated shipping out a 23-year-old Willy Hernangomez, per the New York Post‘s Marc Berman.

These aims and actions are not incumbent of a true rebuilding team. And yet, the Knicks aren’t on the verge of contention either. You’d be wise to steer clear of every single bet that pertains to them—both big-picture odds and game lines. They aren’t good enough to generate futures attention, yet they’re not bad enough to be considered single-tilt pushovers. We’ll have a better idea of who they are in a month or so, but for now, avert your eyes…and your wallet. 

Cleveland Cavaliers (+550) – The Brooklyn Nets Pick Is Not Up For Grabs

cavs

Many initially saw the Brooklyn Nets (+100000) pick that the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired as part of the Kyrie Irving trade as a LeBron James failsafe. The team wouldn’t trade it as a way of protecting itself against James’ departure this summer. Should he bolt, again, the Cavs would, presumably, have a top-five prospect around which to rebuild.

In recent weeks, however, more people have expected them to soften on this stance. The Nets are better than projected, tracking toward a selection that lands between seventh and 10th, which is far less sexier than a top-five or top-three choice. Couldn’t the Cavaliers, in theory, talk themselves into moving it for the sake of chasing the Warriors?

Apparently not. Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com says they’re still against trading the pick. That could still change if the right deal comes along, but don’t count on it. Instead, view the Cavaliers as they lie, without assuming they’ll make a big-time splash. Their championship odds should hold mostly steady from here.

Houston Rockets (+850) – GM Daryl Morey Isn’t Expecting A Busy Trade Deadline

rockets

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has built a reputation on heavy activity. He is always on the prowl for roster upgrades, whether they come during the season or over the summer. Even as Houston establishes itself as perhaps the NBA’s foremost obstacle in front of Golden State, the assumption is he’ll pounce at the chance to tinker and fiddle should he be given one.

Or maybe not.

“I don’t expect to do much,” Morey said, per the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen. “There’s outside the rotation stuff potentially. We’re always looking for something to upgrade us. I would guess the odds of us doing nothing are much higher than normal.”

James Harden’s recent hamstring injury, along with Luc Mbah a Moute’s shoulder issue, could coax the Rockets into making a smaller-time move. Anything more substantive should be considered out of the question. Like the Cavaliers, their championship odds should hold relatively firm from here. Don’t expect any big swings in either direction. Those will come over the summer, depending on how, and when, this year ends.

Detroit Pistons (+10000), New Orleans Pelicans (+20000), Portland Trail Blazers (+25000) – Each Team Chasing Upgrades On The Perimeter

blazers

The Detroit Pistons, Portland Trail Blazers and Pelicans are all searching for improvements in the wing department, once again according to Wojnarowski. Though the right acquisition for any of these teams could have a significant impact on their championship odds, only the Blazers feel like a threat to make a dent at the trade deadline.

New Orleans has virtually no trade assets outside of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, neither of whom is considered available. The Pistons have some okay pieces to work with, and Wojnarowski says they pursued a trade with the Orlando Magic (+200000) for Evan Fournier, but their hard-cap situation hamstrings their ability to absorb someone who’s earning serious coin.

The Blazers, for that matter, aren’t especially likely to rock the boat. General manager Neil Olshey isn’t a fan of midseason shakeups, and his team is comfortably inside the playoff picture…for now. 

Sixth place isn’t anything to celebrate in the West. The Denver Nuggets (+12500) and Clippers are hot on their trail, and the Utah Jazz (+30000) could factor back into the equation once Rudy Gobert is healthy. And with their payroll, the Blazers need to guarantee themselves a postseason slot. Dangling some combination of a first-round pick, one of their young bigs and salary filler is a good way to reel in a serviceable wing.

As shot-in-the-dark advice, keep your eyes peeled on Nikola Mirotic. The Chicago Bulls (+50000) are looking to move him, and he’s someone who could render the Blazers a long-shot futures play.

Results / FixturesNBA

*All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference or NBA.com and are accurate leading into games on Jan. 9.

Category : Sports Betting News

Tag : basketball , cleveland cavaliers , detroit pistons , houston rockets , los angeles clippers , Los Angeles Lakers , nba , new orleans pelicans , new york knicks , portland trail blazers , san antonio spurs

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