How Does James Harden Trade Impact Nets 2021 NBA Championship Odds?

Written By Dave Bontempo on January 15, 2021
James Harden

Enjoy the latest chapter of the James Harden saga.

New Jersey online sports bettors wager into both the shock and potential aftershock of the NBA’s first blockbuster deal this season. For those who missed it, Harden to the Brooklyn Nets is now official.

But for NBA betting crowd, how does this deal impact the Nets odds of winning the East and Finals?

There are at least three sections of this drama.

Act 1: Can money buy a championship?

The Brooklyn Nets soared in the rankings as expected after obtaining the unhappy Houston Rockets superstar Wednesday. They became second in the futures market behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA title across the major NJ sportsbook apps.

And the Philadelphia Sixers raised eyebrows by reportedly being the other finalist before bowing out.

Sources tell NJ Gambling Sites that the sticking point for Philadelphia was Tyrese Maxey. Had Philadelphia been willing to part with him, Harden may have become a Sixer. But Philadelphia did not want to let this year’s first-round pick go.

The Nets payroll now includes three of the highest-paid players in the league based on salaries posted on the HoopsHype website:

  • Harden, $41.2 million
  • Kevin Durant, $39 million
  • Kyrie Irving, $33.4 million

Harden tops the list at $41 million per season. Durant is second at $39 million. Irving is the “blue-collar” member of this group, $33 million.

That’s more than $113 million for three players.

NBA odds shift from James Harden trade

DraftKings Sportsbook adjusted not only the Nets to second-favored status for the NBA championship. It made them favorites to capture the Eastern Conference, as one might expect.

Following the Nets’ acquisition of the former league MVP, the team’s Eastern Conference Championship futures moved from +225 prior to the deal down to +140 in the aftermath. While the Nets odds now top the East, the Lakers still edge them out as the NBA Finals favorite.The Nets are at +300 compared to +250 for the Lake Show

“We realized there was a good chance Harden would be dealt to the Nets, which coupled with the fact Brooklyn has Durant and Irving, meant the team was already at short odds,” said Johnny Avello, director of race and sportsbook operations at DraftKings. “To date, the Nets’ longest championship odds this season were still an impressive 9 to 1 back in October, and this trade only enhances their chances while becoming the new Eastern Conference favorite.”

FanDuel has Nets ‘on par with Lakers’

John Sheeran from the FanDuel Sportsbook Risk and Trading Team made a statement moments after the trade was announced:

“We have adjusted our ratings for the Nets after acquiring James Harden to now be on par with the Los Angeles Lakers (+260).  We have cut their NBA Championship odds from +600 to +270.  The Lakers will remain the favorites as Brooklyn will have to prove they can gel together and become a championship team.  But if the Nets are all healthy and playing well, the acquisition of Harden could see the Nets favored over the Lakers in a NBA Finals matchup.”

Like at DraftKings, the odds of the Nets winning have improved significantly since October.

The opening odds for the Nets in the NBA Championship market were +1300. They moved to +600 at the start of the season. FanDuel said the Nets are currently the #2 team by handle and bet count in the NBA Championship market.

However, the operator said the 76ers continue to be their biggest liability in the NBA Championship market.

Act 2: Heavy premium on the Nets

The supposedly unstoppable trio of Harden, Irving, and Durant may have trouble gelling. Irving, under investigation for maskless partying, has already missed five games.

The addition of Harden creates one more ego and one less opportunity to get the ball.

The Nets announced this deal when the club had obtained a lackluster 6-6 start. They have actually played reasonably well at times without both Irving and Durant in the lineup.

Should the trio merge, the Nets will become an awesome collection of individuals. But can they become a team?

If you like to bet the contrarian angle, the Nets have been anointed as an NBA finalist before showing signs of coming together. The odds indicate the team would make the playoffs and find its stride in the spring. Right now, the odds are ahead of where this team has been performing on the floor.

Act 3: Impact of James Harden trade

As part of a blockbuster four-team trade involving the Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Indiana Pacers, the Nets landed the reigning three-time scoring champion.

The Nets also surrendered four players and one of the biggest hauls of draft picks in league history, in an attempt to win now. Plus, the Sixers’ strong attempt to lure Harden most likely drove up the price

The Rockets essentially gained an offer they could not refuse.

The Nets also sent three first-round picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) to the Rockets.

Houston gains a monumental victory if these draft picks pan out. Harden was unhappy anyway. That’s bad for team chemistry and would deter his own production. The Rockets figured they were not going to win this year. Trade your biggest drawing card at peak value and build for another championship.

However, at least for this season, Harden and the Nets odds of winning the NBA crown will continue to make headlines.





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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and others. He writes about all major sports in the booming legal New Jersey sports betting industry. Dave also hosts the Why Eagles Why podcast. Dave is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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