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Summer of Kevin Durant: How he changes NBA title odds

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The Golden State Warriors provided a potential sneak peek into next season with an impressive Game 6 closeout win over the Houston Rockets -- without injured superstar Kevin Durant. The two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP is expected to opt out of his contract this summer and explore free agency.

Some other marquee players will follow him and find new teams this summer, a list that potentially includes Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Vucevic, Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton.

NBA title odds for the 2019-20 season are already up courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, and sportsbooks have learned their lesson about NBA free agency (see LeBron James in 2010 and 2014).

How will Durant's decision affect next year's title odds?

We asked SuperBook executive director John Murray that very question regarding five likely destinations. For the sake of this piece, we asked he operate in a vacuum without other free-agent movement and assume Durant's full return to health.

Note: Current title odds in parentheses.


Golden State Warriors (+175)

With Durant: -125 (favorite)

Murray: "I do think they're getting older. The days of them being -200 in the preseason are over. That's a conversation we have all the time. These guys are not what they were in 2016 and 2017. They'd still be a clear favorite because I also think you're talking about adding another year to Chris Paul's odometer [in Houston]. Milwaukee is very, very good. Giannis [Antetokounmpo] seems to be getting better every year."

Without Durant: 5-1

"I do think that nucleus, even though it just won Game 6, is nowhere near what it was in 2015. [Andre] Iguodala is not the same. Draymond [Green] is not the same offensively."

New York Knicks (16-1)

With Durant: 10-1

Murray: "It's hard to say because who goes with him? Will they trade Zion [Williamson] if they get the top pick? Is Kyrie [Irving] going to go with him or run back into LeBron's arms again? If it's just Durant and a lottery pick, I don't think they'd realistically have a chance to win the championship. It would be like when people bet the Lakers when the Lakers didn't realistically have a chance at winning the title this year. I think you'd see similar betting. I stress it would be an artificial number ... but you have to respond to the money and if you know the money's coming somewhere, you have to act. People would bet the Knicks to win, especially if they land a top-three pick in the draft."

Without Durant: 500-1

"If all they did was add a lottery pick and not get one of these free agents, I don't see why they wouldn't be 500-1. They'd have no chance of winning anything."

Brooklyn Nets (30-1)

With Durant: 10-1

Murray: "They have a really good front office and some good young players they could surround him with. They too would get down to that 10-1 range. They gave the [Philadelphia] Sixers some pretty good games. I like their coach and I like that GM. I think they'd be very dangerous in the Eastern Conference."

Without Durant: 60-1

"A lot of depends on whether Kawhi Leonard stays put in the East or goes to the West. If Kawhi stays in Toronto or goes to L.A., that impacts all these hypotheticals. The Nets could get other free agents but 70-1 if they don't get anybody."

Los Angeles Clippers (16-1)

With Durant: 10-1

Murray: "I still do think the West is just better than the East. You still have Golden State and Denver should be better next year with all those young guys they have."

Without Durant: 80-1

"It would depend [where he went]. Let's say he went back to Golden State -- I'd say 80-1."

Los Angeles Lakers (20-1)

With Durant: +350 (favorite)

Murray: "You'd get so much money on them, it would be ridiculous. I have to think that the Lakers front office would do a better job of handpicking veteran players to play supporting roles. I don't think you could ever do a worse job of that than they did this year. So I have to believe they would do a better job of picking up some veteran guys."

Without Durant: 30-1

"We still wouldn't see them go up much. They are still the Lakers and they still have LeBron. I'll say now 30-1 because we'd write a lot of money on 40-1. People will bet the Lakers, as long as LeBron is there. I know that for sure."