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Knicks favored to win Vegas Summer League title

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The New York Knicks are the favorites to win the championship -- the Las Vegas Summer League championship.

The Las Vegas Summer League tips off Friday with a 10-game slate, highlighted by a matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Knicks (9:30 p.m., ESPN).

No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Zion Williamson plays for the Pelicans, while Duke teammate RJ Barrett was the third overall selection by the Knicks.

The Knicks, at 8-1, are the favorites to win the league at Caesars Sportsbook. The Portland Trail Blazers are next at 10-1, followed by the Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs, who are each 14-1.

Las Vegas sportsbooks indicated that betting interest on Summer League is increasing but remains comparatively light. Alan Berg, senior oddsmaker for Caesars, compared the amount wagered on a Summer League game to how much is bet on a WNBA game.

"It's pretty much bet on by sharper players than the public," Berg said. "It's the guys that are moving numbers that are trying to bet with us on this stuff."

All 30 NBA franchises and international teams from China and Croatia will take part in the Las Vegas Summer League, which is capped off by an eight-team, single-elimination tournament. The championship game will take place July 15.

The Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards are 15-1 to win the league at Caesars, followed by the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets, which are each 18-1. Team China, at 100-1, is the biggest longshot on the board.

"It crosses the MLB All-Star break, where it's basically the premier event during those few days," said Jeff Sherman, NBA oddsmaker at the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas. "It's definitely the right time of year to attract to action."

While other leagues have expressed worry about wagering on exhibition and preseason events, the NBA does not view betting on summer league to be a top concern. Betting limits are generally small -- $500 to $1,000 at some books -- and the overall amount wagered on the games is low.

Earlier this year, Major League Baseball asked Nevada Gaming Control to stop the state's regulated sportsbooks from taking bets on spring training, saying that the exhibition games "are not conducive to betting and carry heightened integrity risks."

MLB's request was denied, and some Las Vegas sportsbooks are accepting bets on Las Vegas Aviators games. The Aviators are the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

Sportsbooks in the new states now offering sports betting, for the most part, have not been taking bets on minor league games; however, offshore sportsbooks serving the United States do.

"I think these guys [in Summer League] are giving it their most, because they're all trying to make rosters," Sherman said. "They're mostly on the outside and looking in, trying to get a contract. I think these guys are going to give as much effort as anyone in any sport."