Two bets to make after the James Harden trade
In the middle of the night - during the witching hour of Halloween, fittingly enough - the Los Angeles Clippers acquired James Harden in a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to multiple reports.
Philadelphia sent Harden along with P.J. Tucker and forward Filip Petrusev to Los Angeles, in exchange for Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, K.J. Martin and draft compensation.
The deal is one that many in the NBA community had been waiting for, and now that the dust has settled we can focus on the ramifications in the betting world.
DraftKings moved Los Angeles’ odds to win the NBA Finals to +1200 as a result of the trade - the same odds as the Golden State Warriors - and the Clippers are now +700 to win the Western Conference; a move that puts them in a three-way tie with the Warriors and Lakers.
Philadelphia is +1800 to win the NBA Finals at DraftKings after the trade and +800 to win the Eastern Conference.
The trade is one that seemingly works for both parties. The Clippers were able to retain Terance Mann - a player Daryl Morey reportedly coveted - and six of their top eight players in terms of minutes played remain with the team. Meanwhile, the 76ers relieve themselves of the headache that has been Harden, and they acquire multiple expiring contracts and draft compensation that can be flipped for a key role player.
When trades like this occur there are many who want to find an angle worth betting on, but usually the odds are adjusted accurately, leaving no value to find. However, this trade has ripple effects and there are two potential bets to consider for bettors looking to act on this deal.
Philadelphia 76ers to win the NBA Finals (+2700)
In the deal Philadelphia not only acquired three expiring contracts - Batum, Morris and Covington - but it also acquired a 2028 unprotected first-round pick from Los Angeles, a 2029 pick swap, an additional first-round pick from Oklahoma City and multiple second-round picks. Those are assets that can be flipped this season for a third piece that can fit with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Chris Mannix has already reported that Philadelphia has called Toronto about forward Pascal Siakam. Siakam would be an incredible fit for the 76ers, and would fill the void left along the wing by the trade of Tucker to Los Angeles. He is also a versatile defender that could take on opposing wings on that end of the floor. Should Philadelphia act on this newfound bounty and acquire Siakam - or any piece similar to him - the 76ers could be just as big a threat as any in the Eastern Conference. Circa Sports has the lowest odds in the market on Philadelphia at +2700 which is a number worth grabbing before they make a move.
Russell Westbrook to win Sixth Man of the Year (+4500)
Los Angeles has some questions as to how they are going to divvy up the minutes amongst Harden, Mann and Russell Westbrook, but logic would say Westbrook is the odd-man out of the starting lineup. The Clippers made it a point to announce Mann as the fifth starter before the season began, and it would make no sense to then bench him before he even gets a chance to play, as he has been out with an ankle injury. It’s also a matter of fit, as having Westbrook and Harden on the floor together not only clashes on offense, but it gives the Clippers a weak defensive backcourt as well.
So, if Westbrook finds himself in the bench role for Los Angeles he could continue thriving for the Clippers and put himself in contention for the award. He is currently averaging 11.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists on 60.0% shooting from the floor. If Westbrook keeps up that pace but comes of the bench for a majority of games this season he will be in contention for the award. At the very least, he has better odds to win this award than the current price would indicate.