Betting NBA Futures



Having had their screenplay for a fourth consecutive NBA Championship rejected last June, you just knew that the Lakers were going to add a few new leading men to their cast and submit a fresh script for this season. The question, as the NBA prepares to launch a fresh campaign, Oct. 28, is whether bettors will pay the hefty ticket price on Los Angeles.

Adding a pair of future Hall of Fame performers to a roster that already includes two of the premier players on the planet has cut the future book price on Los Angeles winning another NBA Championship next year to 11/10. The odds on the Lakers, which had its title run halted at three last season by the San Antonio Spurs, were adjusted after LA acquired veterans Karl Malone and Gary Payton through free agency. Certainly, Malone and Payton, teammates on the USA's Gold Medal winning "Dream Team" at the 1992 Olympics and each named one of the NBA's "50 Greatest Players," were among the most coveted of the 143 players who opted for free agency this cycle.

Malone addresses a glaring need for scoring, rebounding and toughness at power forward while Payton brings leadership and defensive prowess to the point. They'll join center Shaquille O'Neal and shooting guard Kobe Bryant in what should be an awesome foursome. Rick Fox and Devean George will get their minutes at small forward.

Detractors - or those gamblers simply looking to justify taking a better price with another team - are reduced to hoping that one ball is not nearly enough for the talented quartet or that Bryant's impending sexual assault trial in Colorado will impact the team.

Attempting to keep pace with the Lakers, both the Spurs and the Kings made personnel moves that should hearten their backers. San Antonio, a 7/2-second choice to repeat, signed 7-0 center Rasho Nesterovic away from Minnesota to replace David Robinson, who retired. The Spurs also added small forward Hedo Turkoglu, from Sacramento, as well as swingman Ron Mercer, a good defender on the perimeter, from Indiana.

Sacramento, the 4/1 third choice, raided Indiana to ink all-star center Brad Miller. The 5-year pro provides the Kings with another big body to help center Vlade Divac until Chris Webber rejoins the club, probably in late November or early December.

With the Lakers and Kings both getting bigger up front, the Mavericks, the last team in single digits at odds of 8/1, also made a strong move for more beef, sending Nick Van Exel packing in order to acquire Antawn Jamison and Danny Fortson from the Warriors. Jamison, who averaged 22.3 points last season, will fit nicely up front with Dirk Nowitzki and Raef LaFrentz. The 6-8, 260-pound Fortson adds muscle. Steve Nash and Michael Finley are all-stars in the backcourt.

Minnesota was another team on the move, cycling in three new starters with the acquisition of Sam Cassell, Michael Olowokandi and Latrell Sprewell. Although the trio will form a great starting five with Kevin Garnett and Wally Szczerbiak, the Timberwolves are no better than one of four teams tied for fifth in the future book at odds of 12/1. The problem for Minnesota is to figure out a way to overcome three superior teams in the west, the Lakers, Spurs, Kings and Mavericks.

At odds of 12/1, New Jersey, Indiana and Detroit are the top contenders in the East to win it all. The Nets, who improved their toughness up front with the acquisition of Alonzo Mourning, also added by an absence of subtraction, resigning free agent All-NBA point guar Jason Kidd.

The Pacers resigned Jermaine O'Neal and now have Rick Carlisle, who guided the Pistons to back-to-back 50-wins seasons, calling the shots instead of Isiah Thomas.

The Pistons also have a new coach in Larry Brown, who fled Philadelphia.

Speaking of the 76ers, they join the New Orleans Hornets at 18/1.

I addition to future book wagering on the NBA Championship, The Greek Sportsbook also offers action on the Eastern and Western Conference titles, as well as the winners of each NBA division. The multiple future books provide gamblers with a variety of wagering options, including the ability to hedge their bets later in the season.

ODDS TO WIN THE 2004 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONSHIP

Team Odds     Team Odds
Los Angeles Lakers 11/10     Toronto Raptors 38/1
San Antonio Spurs 7/2     Milwaukee Bucks 50/1
Sacramento Kings 4/1     New York Knicks 50/1
Dallas Mavericks 8/1     Seattle Supersonics 60/1
Minnesota Timberwolves 12/1     Golden State Warriors 66/1
New Jersey Nets 12/1     Miami Heat 75/1
Detroit Pistons 12/1     Atlanta Hawks 75/1
Indiana Pacers 12/1     Cleveland Cavaliers 75/1
New Orleans Hornets 18/1     Utah Jazz 80/1
Philadelphia 76ers 18/1     Washington Wizards 85/1
Orlando Magic 22/1     Los Angeles Clippers 125/1
Portland Trail Blazers 25/1     Memphis Grizzlies 125/1
Phoenix Suns 28/1     Chicago Bulls 125/1
Houston Rockets 33/1     Denver Nuggets 175/1
Boston Celtics 33/1