Apparently, Las Vegas bettors believe LeBron James will return to the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer. What other explanation can there be for more bets being placed on the Cavs to win the 2015 NBA title than on any other team at the Las Vegas Superbook?
“They are our biggest liability right now,” said MGM vice president of race and sports Jay Rood. “We took a dime ($1,000) on them at 40-1.”
The Cavs are currently down to 10-1 at the MGM.
The story’s the same all over Vegas, as reports surfaced about James’ potential interest in returning to Cleveland. The consensus game’s best player has not decided if he will re-sign with the Miami Heat or join his first NBA team, Cleveland, or the other teams interested in luring him away.
Las Vegas Superbook assistant manager and head NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman told ESPN.com that none of the bets on the Cavs have been “significant” in size, but altogether, the wagers were enough to cut Cleveland’s odds in half, from 60-1 to 30-1.
The defending champion San Antonio Spurs (9-2) and the Chicago Bulls (7-1) are the only teams that have attracted more money than the Cavaliers, but no team has received more overall bets (28) than Cleveland since odds went up on June 9. In comparison, the Miami Heat, the favorite at 5-2, had attracted only one bet at the Superbook.
Sherman cautioned that the NBA futures pool is only a month old, however. And some sports books, notably the Wynn, are not taking bets until free agency shakes itself out.
William Hill U.S. director of bookmaking Nick Bogdanovich said in a text message that his shop also had seen a recent influx of betting interest on the Cavs, “but nothing over the top.” It’s been enough, though, to shorten Cleveland’s championship odds from 50-1 on June 16 to 20-1 currently at William Hill’s Nevada book.
If James were return to Cleveland, where he spent the first seven seasons of his NBA career, Sherman said he would adjust the Cavs’ odds to around 8-1.
“They are such a young team,” Sherman said of the Cavaliers. “They would be better positioned for the next season than this upcoming one.”