After Irving deal, Celtics still in LeBron's shadow

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

August 22, 2017 08:23 PM
The Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics on Tuesday, but the Westgate’s odds to win the NBA championship remained the same — Golden State is the minus-220 favorite, followed by Cleveland (4-1), San Antonio (8-1) and Boston (10-1).
© USA Today Sports Images

As the NBA world turns, Kyrie Irving moving from Cleveland to Boston is a big deal. It’s a soap-opera storyline that will stretch from August to May.

In other words, it will be a hot talking point for months. But on Tuesday afternoon, when the trade was announced, a couple of oddsmakers talked it over for a few minutes and decided it was not huge news in the betting world.

The Cavaliers sent Irving, the All-Star point guard who asked for a trade in July, to the Celtics for point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and a 2018 first-round pick.

“We don’t think there’s that much of a difference,” said Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman, who was on the same page in a conversation with oddsmaker Ed Salmons. “I didn’t think it makes the Celtics better.”

The Westgate’s odds to win the NBA championship remained the same — Golden State is the minus-220 favorite, followed by Cleveland (4-1), San Antonio (8-1) and Boston (10-1).

VSiN oddsmaker Vinny Magliulo noted slight adjustments in the South Point’s futures prices. Cleveland dropped from plus-325 to plus-350, and the Celtics improved from 8-1 to 6-1.

As for odds to win the Eastern Conference, the Westgate is sticking with the Cavaliers as minus-150 favorites, followed by the Celtics at 2-1.

Irving, who no longer wanted to be James’ sidekick, had his trade wish answered. But a day after the total solar eclipse, the Celtics still are in James’ shadow. And both the Cavaliers and Celtics are stuck in the Warriors’ shadow.

“Right now, Boston is not even close to Golden State,” Sherman said. “The Celtics will have to wait for that Golden State era to end.”

Boston has made a series of bold moves in the offseason by drafting Duke star Jayson Tatum No. 3 overall, signing free-agent forward Gordon Hayward and finally acquiring Irving to run the show.

“I don’t trust Irving in that role,” Sherman said. “Cleveland stunk before LeBron got there, and when LeBron missed games they lost most of the time.”

The Celtics had to part with two of their top defenders by trading guard Avery Bradley to Detroit and Crowder to Cleveland. Sherman said Boston’s defense will suffer, and shipping off a high first-round pick next year is another negative.

“The Celtics gave up a lot now and in the future,” Sherman said. “I thought the Cavaliers did exceptionally well getting everything they got.”

Thomas averaged 28.9 points to rank third in the NBA in scoring last season. He’s a defensive liability, but so is Irving. The 25-year-old is a dynamic playmaker who averaged 29.4 points in the Cavaliers’ five-game NBA Finals loss to the Warriors in June.

So while the Cavaliers and Celtics traded faces, they are not trading places on the East odds board. Another conference finals series between the teams would be more intriguing, to say the least. How is this for immediate dramatic effect? The Celtics open the season at Cleveland on Oct. 17.

Irving, who has contended he believes the Earth is flat, might have been confused by Monday’s eclipse. And although he has separated from James, he’s not out of LeBron’s shadow yet.

NBA Most Valuable Player odds 2017-18

(Posted at Westgate sports book)

Kevin Durant, Golden State 4-1

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City 4-1

LeBron James, Cleveland 5-1

Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio 5-1

James Harden, Houston 8-1

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee 8-1

Stephen Curry, Golden State 10-1

Anthony Davis, New Orleans 15-1

Kyrie Irving, Boston 25-1

John Wall, Washington 25-1

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