The entire NBA world is on the edge of its collective seat right now. What will the San Antonio Spurs do with Kawhi Leonard, who reportedly wants to be traded? Where will Paul George sign in free agency? Where will other top free agents, like Chris Paul and DeMarcus Cousins, go?
Of course, the biggest player on the market is the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James. James is the best player in the NBA and he appears to be on the move after a season where he had to drag an uninspiring Cavs roster to the NBA Finals. Once there, they got swept by the Golden State Warriors.
5Dimes and BetOnline have released several prop bets regarding where LeBron will play his first game during the 2018-19 season. This NBA betting preview has looked through these bets, and come up with our predictions and picks. Theses are the four bets we like, listed in order of preference:
LeBron’s first game is not with the Cleveland Cavaliers (-280 with BetOnline)
One of the things that seemed most apparent in the NBA Finals was that LeBron James has no future in Cleveland. The Cavs’ supporting cast around him just was not at a championship level and the squad’s financial commitments for the future don’t provide much hope. Why would LeBron stay? He has to be tired of getting spanked by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals despite giving his best effort.
The Cavs current financial asset situation is not conducive to acquiring marquee free agents, and they definitely haven’t proven to the other stars in the league that they are a smart franchise that is on the rise.
There have been reports that the Cavs are already preparing for a future without James. That was reflected in their draft selection of point guard Collin Sexton, who would be a poor fit on the court with LeBron. Sexton is only effective with the ball in his hands on offense and having LeBron on the team means much fewer reps for the explosive floor general.
LeBron will be teammates with Kawhi Leonard to start 2018-19 (+700 with BetOnline)
This combination didn’t look as likely a week or two, but the Lakers are getting more and more desperate to pull the trigger on a trade for Kawhi Leonard in the next few days. LeBron is probably waiting for a move like that before he commits to a team that is made up of mainly youngsters that aren’t yet in their prime.
If the Lakers do land Kawhi, LeBron would more likely than not choose to join the Lakers. And considering that Bovada has Kawhi going to the Lakers at around +275 as recently as Wednesday night (though the odds are now unlisted), pulling the trigger on this pair of potential teammates at +700 seems like a smart use of money.
LeBron’s first game is not with the Los Angeles Lakers (+170 with 5Dimes)
This one is just a good hedge with the previous bet. Los Angeles is LeBron’s most likely destination, but if the team can’t get Kawhi Leonard or Paul George to join the squad, it seems like a long shot that LeBron will join the Lakers.
These odds imply that LeBron has about a 63 percent chance of joining Los Angeles’ more famous franchise. That seems just a little bit high, considering that the Spurs are doing everything they can to retain Leonard and George has hinted at wanting to run things back with his current team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
LeBron’s other options could be teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs.
LeBron’s first game is with the San Antonio Spurs (+2500 with 5Dimes)
This one’s a long shot, but it could be worth the gamble. If the Lakers aren’t able to pull off a trade for Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs continue to be patient with trade offers for Leonard, LeBron could be curious about joining forces with another superstar forward in San Antonio.
James has always been effusive in his praise for Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and he has a strong mentoring relationship with San Antonio starting point guard Dejounte Murray. The Spurs have had their issues with star drama in the past couple years, but they are still the NBA’s model organization of the last 20 years.
San Antonio would need to move a lot of pieces around to make this work, but it’s still a potential outcome.