The Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat saw their championship odds improve at sportsbooks when news broke Thursday that Kevin Durant was requesting a trade from the Brooklyn Nets and reportedly eyeing those two contenders.
Bettors, however, have been gravitating toward a team that hasn't made any significant moves to a roster that missed the playoffs last season -- the Los Angeles Lakers.
In a 24-hour span, beginning Thursday afternoon, multiple sportsbooks reported receiving a surge of betting interest on the Lakers to win next season's championship. The Lakers' title odds moved from 22-1 to 10-1 at Caesars Sportsbook, where Los Angeles attracted 3.5 times more betting handle than any other team since Wednesday afternoon. Included in the rush of Lakers action was a $10,000 bet at 22-1 odds from a bettor in New York, according to Caesars.
"People always think the Lakers will end up with everybody," Eric Fenstermaker, senior trading manager for Caesars Sportsbook, said Friday in a company release, adding that the book took enough $1,000 and $500 bets on the Lakers to make Los Angeles its largest liability in the NBA title market.
DraftKings also saw a flurry of bets on the Lakers. Since Thursday afternoon, more bets had been placed on the Lakers than had been placed on any other team, a DraftKings spokesperson told ESPN.
The Nets saw their odds lengthen from 15-2 to 35-1 at Caesars Sportsbook after the news of Durant's trade request. Fenstermaker said Brooklyn would likely grow to even bigger long shots.
"The Nets being 35-1 now is probably still too low, but it depends what they get back for Durant," Fenstermaker said. "If they're going to punt and roll with [Ben] Simmons and a bunch of no-names, they're going to be 80-1 or 100-1."
The Nets began last season as the consensus favorites to win the NBA title.