Damian Lillard has denied the reports that he wants out of Portland, but you can still get about 3-1 odds that he’ll be a Sixer next year.
“I woke up to those reports, but it’s not true,” Lillard said after practice Friday for Team USA ahead of the Olympics. “A lot of things are being said, but it hasn’t come from me.”
PointsBet is one of the local sportsbooks that is up with odds on next season’s NBA title. As of Friday afternoon, the Sixers were seventh among favorites at 12-1, tucked between unproven Utah (11-1) and Kawhi Leonard’s ACL (Clippers, 14-1).
Philadelphia is a relatively distant third among Eastern Conference clubs, behind Brooklyn (5-2) and Milwaukee (8-1).
However, consider those odds flexible. The NBA world is all atwitter over whether Lillard, a six-time All-Star and one of the game’s top players, will force his way out of Portland. If he does, PointsBet has a prop available in Colorado with the Knicks as the favored landing spot at 2-1. The Sixers, because of one particular asset, are next at 5-2.
While other jurisdictions don’t yet allow this prop, it makes for interesting speculation. The Knicks have a number of assets that could appeal to Portland, but the Sixers have an intriguing one as well. Or should that be enigmatic?
“There’s so much doubt about what Ben Simmons’ value is after that playoff series against Atlanta,” said Jay Croucher, PointsBet’s head of trading. “Twelve months ago, he was talked about as being the centerpiece for a James Harden trade. ... It’s all very fluid and can quickly change.”
Simmons, who turns 25 on Tuesday, had a nightmare postseason as the top-seeded Sixers lost to the fifth-seeded Hawks three times at the Wells Fargo, including Game 7.
Conversation, not cash
The prop on where Lillard will play next season is as much to generate interest as significant wagers. Pointsbet will keep betting limits low as the news cycle spits out report after report. Some will be accurate. Some maybe not.
Remember three years ago, when LeBron James’ (or his representatives) were kicking around Malvern Prep as a possible spot for LeBron’s son?
“Obviously, the limits on this won’t be as high as the Super Bowl or whatever,” Croucher said. “It’s a [proposition] that does move around quite a bit. The main thing with this is we respect the money that comes in. We respect the reputable reporting on the matter.”
For now, Lillard, who turned 31 on Thursday, said that he has made no decision, which also must be respected. But if something breaks and he does end up here, Croucher is confident there will be plenty of betting optimism around the Sixers. Who cares if they haven’t been past the second round in two decades?
“It would depend on what they give up, but they could instantly be the second favorite in the East behind Brooklyn, or at least right there with Milwaukee tied for second,” he said. “If you’ve got Lillard and Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid, and you keep Seth Curry and the young upcoming players ... I would think that would make them second-favorites in the East. It could potentially make them better than the Lakers for second-favorite for the title right now.”