Clippers become betting favorite to win NBA title

The LA Clippers, potentially for the first time in franchise history, are the favorite to win the NBA title.

With the acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Caesars Sportsbook on Saturday morning moved the Clippers from 10-1 to 11-4 to win the 2019-20 NBA title, just ahead of the rival Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers, who were in the running to sign Leonard, had been the consensus 2020 title favorite since acquiring Anthony Davis to play alongside LeBron James. With Leonard off the table, the Lakers dropped from 7-5 to 4-1 at the Caesars Sportsbook.

The Milwaukee Bucks, at 4-1, have the best odds in the Eastern Conference, followed by the Philadelphia 76ers at 7-1.

The Golden State Warriors are 10-1, followed by the Utah Jazz at 14-1. The Houston Rockets are 15-1, and the Brooklyn Nets are 20-1.

The defending champion Toronto Raptors, with the loss of Leonard, dropped from 10-1 to 50-1. After losing George, the Oklahoma City Thunder saw their odds drop to 100-1.

Odds varied from book to book. Bookmaker William Hill U.S. kept the Lakers as the favorite at 3-1, with the Clippers at 7-2. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had the Clippers as a 3-1 favorite and lengthened the Lakers' odds to 6-1, behind the Bucks at 4-1.

Over the past several weeks, big bets have come in on the Lakers at sportsbooks around Las Vegas. The SuperBook reported taking a $10,000 wager on the Lakers to win the title at 5-1 on June 15 and another $10,000 bet at 7-4 on July 1. William Hill U.S. reported taking a $9,500 wager on the Lakers at 5-1 on June 17 and a $10,000 bet on the Lakers on June 28.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 47% of the money that had been wagered on William Hill's odds to win the 2020 NBA championship was on the Lakers. At Caesars, nearly five times as much money had been bet on the Lakers than had been wagered on any other team.

For now, though, the Clippers are the favorite at the majority of sportsbooks. According to sports-betting archive Sportsoddshistory.com, it's the first time they have been the title favorite since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1984.

As news of the Clippers' moves happened, sportsbooks around Las Vegas took 2020 title odds off the board and reposted them later Saturday morning. New Jersey sportsbooks DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet each had the Clippers as the favorite after the deal.

In previous years, a flurry of bets, including some large wagers, had shown up at Las Vegas sportsbooks ahead of James' move to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 and Kevin Durant's decision to join the Warriors in 2016. That didn't happen last week with the Clippers.

Jeff Sherman, vice president of risk for Westgate, was surprised at the lack of betting interest on the Clippers and said he wrote just one bet on them last week.

No notable title bets on the Clippers were placed Friday at either Caesars or Westgate, sportsbook representatives told ESPN. Seven teams had attracted more bets than the Clippers prior to the news at William Hill U.S., including the New Orleans Pelicans.