The New York Knicks are back in the championship mix heading into a summer that could shake up the NBA.
The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas on Saturday opened the Knicks at 16-1 to win the 2020 NBA championship. New York is behind only the Milwaukee Bucks (9-2), Boston Celtics (7-1) and Philadelphia 76ers (10-1) in the Eastern Conference. Kevin Durant‘s pending free agency is the reason why.
Jeff Sherman, who oversees NBA odds at the SuperBook, believes the Knicks are the favorites to land Durant this summer and created their title odds accordingly. Sherman said the Knicks would be somewhere in the range of 300-1 if they aren’t able to land Durant or another of the high-profile stars who could be on the move this offseason. If New York does land Durant and Kyrie Irving, Sherman said he would still have the Bucks with better odds than the Knicks.
The Golden State Warriors enter the summer as the early favorites for the fourth consecutive season, but their odds have been tempered with the uncertainty surrounding Durant. The Warriors are listed at 7-4 at the SuperBook to win next season’s title. Since signing Durant in 2016, the Warriors have started the past three seasons as odds-on favorites to win the NBA title.
“Before Durant, [the Warriors] were still the best team,” Sherman, vice president of risk at the SuperBook, told ESPN. “Even if Durant comes back, we’ll make an adjustment downwards, but they won’t be [odds-on] favorites like we’ve seen in the past couple years. We’ll obviously bump them up if he leaves, but it’s kind of a middle ground now dealing with this team.”
In addition to Durant, Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard and Irving are pending free agents, and New Orleans star Anthony Davis is expected to be on the move as well. The Knicks, with nearly $73 million in salary-cap space, the most of any team, have enough cap room to grab two max players. Durant and Irving have been rumored as a potential tandem to join the Knicks, but even that would not make New York the clear-cut favorite, Sherman said.
“I could see them at 12-1 [with Durant and Irving],” Sherman said. “All we’re doing is making these odds based on today’s perception on where people think these guys might have a legitimate chance of going.”