After months and months of rumors, hearsay, and some actual negotiations, Damian Lillard has finally been traded. But instead of landing in Miami (or Brooklyn, or Toronto), the Trail Blazers shipped him off to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, shocking the NBA world, and ultimately shifting the betting favorite to win the championship in 2024.
NBA Finals Odds Shift After Lillard Trade: Bucks Now Heavy Favorite
T️he Bucks entered today with the fourth-best odds to win the NBA Finals, now they are the favorites ⌚️ pic.twitter.com/IsP8foIrVI
— ESPN (@espn) September 27, 2023
The reigning champion Denver Nuggets entered the off-season as the favorites to repeat. They were given a +500 designation (depending on the outlet), with the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns trailing behind. After the initial free agency period and due to a couple of meaningful trades, the Celtics and Suns closed the gap. and Boston had pulled even with the Nuggets at the +500 mark.
But all of that changed on Wednesday.
Early in the afternoon, it was announced that the Bucks had traded for Damian Lillard in a three-team deal. There were some big names moved around in the transaction between Milwaukee, Portland, and Phoenix, but Lillard is far and away the key acquisition, and immediately swung the betting odds for the upcoming season.
Entering the day, the Bucks had the 4th shortest odds of any team to win the 2024 NBA Championship, and were sitting at +750. Upon the news breaking that Lillard would be joining the team, their number dropped all the way down to +375, making them the immediate championship favorites, and heavy ones at that.
Heat See Their Odds Balloon After Trade Announcement
The Miami Heat’s NBA Title odds BEFORE the Bucks traded for Damian Lillard: +900
The Miami Heat’s NBA Title odds AFTER the Bucks traded for Damian Lillard: +2800 pic.twitter.com/UTHmND6pMs
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) September 27, 2023
A few other betting futures were affected as well. The Miami Heat, who were long known to be Lillard’s preferred destination, had their championship odds sitting at +900 entering Wednesday. When they were removed from the Lillard Sweepstakes, that number ballooned, shooting all the way up to +2200.
It will be interesting to see where the Heat go from here. Fans are obviously upset about not being able to land the superstar, but even their own star player Jimmy Butler took to social media immediately following the trade to accuse the Bucks of tampering in the situation.
The Bucks will play against the Heat in the third game of the season, on October 30th. Lillard will face off against his old team for the first time on November 26th. He’ll make his return to Portland on January 31st.
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