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Adding Kawhi Leonard would make Lakers the new Warriors

If the Lakers sign Kawhi Leonard in free agency, which starts at 3 p.m. Sunday, Los Angeles would become the odds-on favorite to win the 2020 NBA championship.

“If Kawhi goes there, we’d have what we’ve seen out of the Warriors recently,” Westgate sportsbook manager Jeff Sherman said Saturday. “If that becomes official, the Lakers would be minus (money) to win the title.”

Golden State was the minus 200 favorite to win the 2019 NBA title for most of the 2018-19 season before Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to an upset victory over the Warriors en route to NBA Finals MVP honors.

Golden State’s futures odds took a major hit (to 12-1) with the loss of injured stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson for up to a year and the Lakers emerged as the 3-1 favorites to win the 2020 NBA title after acquiring Anthony Davis.

The 24-hour news cycle has doubled as the 24-hour odds cycle in recent days:

On Thursday, the Westgate moved L.A.’s 2020 title odds to 5-2 after news broke that the Lakers had cleared enough cap space to sign another max free agent.

On Friday, the Westgate adjusted L.A.’s odds to plus 120 based on a report that Leonard would take a meeting with the Lakers.

On Saturday morning, Sherman moved L.A.’s odds back to 2-1 after news broke that Leonard and Durant were talking about teaming up on either the L.A. Clippers or New York Knicks. He also moved the Clippers from 8-1 to 6-1 and the Knicks from 100-1 to 50-1.

“We have to be reactive to that stuff and the bets we expect to see across the ticker when something is reported,” Sherman said. “Bettors see that and bet that and hope it comes to fruition.

“If someone reports that Kawhi is likely to go back to the Raptors, they’ll go from 10-1 to 6-1 and back to the East favorites with Milwaukee. It’s a 24-hour type of thing for the next week.”

The Lakers are the 3-1 favorites at William Hill sportsbook to win the 2020 NBA title, the Bucks are the 6-1 second choice and the Clippers are 15-2.

“Even if (the Lakers) don’t get Kawhi, it sounds like they’ll get someone else, like (Kyrie) Irving,” Sherman said.

While a Big 3 of Leonard, James and Davis would be formidable, Sherman said the Lakers’ futures odds are skewed based on their popularity at the books.

“It’s almost like a Tiger Woods effect,” he said. “The Lakers’ odds, in conjunction with LeBron, are going to be lower than they really should be based on who’s betting them.

“They’re always looking to bet the Lakers and they’re always looking to bet on LeBron’s team. Now that they’re married on that team, you get that support at lower odds than they should be. It’s almost like Tiger’s odds.”

More Betting: Follow at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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