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NBA Trade Deadline Makes Championship Betting Risky

ByDave Stopher

Feb 18, 2020 #Sports

The NBA trade deadline is upon us. Teams will be forbidden from making trades once the deadline strikes on Thursday afternoon. So, with the clock ticking, teams all over the league are scrambling to try and position themselves accordingly.

Teams that believe they’re in the championship picture may be looking to add that one final piece that can help them get over the top. Other teams with no immediate title aspirations may be seeking some young players or potential draft capital in return from those contenders with the season coming to a close in just a couple of months.

A handful of playoff hopefuls have been bandied about in rumors in recent days. Teams like the Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Portland Trail Blazers have featured heavily in trade speculation.

Lakers, Bucks, Clippers Title Favorites

As things stand today, the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Clippers are the betting favorites to win the 2020 NBA title. The majority of betting sites that offer NBA lines have these three teams with the most favorable championship odds. The Lakers are commonly priced around +200, the Bucks are at +250 and the Clippers are at +300.

All three teams will be among the most popular bets to win it all this season, even if none of them make a trade before the deadline passes. As presently constructed, there is no reason to believe any of them can’t win the title.

At this point, the Lakers and Bucks look like near shoo-ins to finish with the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences. Having home-court advantage throughout the playoffs is no small thing. It’s going to be an incredibly difficult task for any opposing team to go into Staples Center or Fiserv Forum and win enough games to prevail in a playoff series.

Regardless of whether the Lakers, Bucks or Clippers wind up making any serious moves at the deadline, all three still make for stellar betting options to win the championship.

Other Contenders Jockeying

As mentioned, I don’t think any of those teams is in desperate need of a trade in order to solidify their status as bona fide contenders. However, we’re almost sure to see some of the other teams lower in the standings make moves.

As usual, the Rockets are among the most active. Houston is reportedly seeking to move center Clint Capela, and teams like the Hawks and Celtics have registered interest. The Rockets are in search of another wing plus a lesser center to fill Capela’s spot if he gets dealt.

The Rockets have interest in prying Robert Covington away from Minnesota. Covington is a hot commodity on this trade market thanks to his size (6’10”), shooting prowess and his ability to defend multiple positions. He would be a nice complementary piece to fit in alongside James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

It makes sense that Boston would have interest in Capela, as the team has struggled to defend the rim since Al Horford left for Philly in the offseason. What Boston would have to give up in order to get the Swiss big man remains to be seen, but if they can fill that void it makes sense to take the Celtics seriously as a potential championship dark horse.

The 76ers need extra playmaking and shooting. The team has no shortage of star players, but depth is an area of concern for Philadelphia. Ironically, trading Horford might be their best way of filling that need.

The Rockets and Sixers are both listed with +1400 odds to win the 2020 NBA title, while the Celtics aren’t far behind at +1800. The odds will shift depending on whether those teams wind up making any meaningful moves.


You don’t have to be in the championship picture in order to be active at the trade deadline. Teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors, who won’t be making the playoffs, are rumored to be heavily involved.

Minnesota is actively trying to get D’Angelo Russell away from Golden State. The Timberwolves tried to sign Russell over the summer, but the All-Star guard opted to sign with the 5-time reigning Western Conference champs instead. The season has gone sideways for both teams, but there are reports that they have engaged one another in trade discussions.

The Wolves are apparently interested in swinging a 4-way trade involving Golden State, Houston, and Atlanta that would net them Russell with Capela winding up with the Hawks.


The 2019-20 championship race is a wide-open one. With no clear-cut title favorite, we can expect no shortage of action at the upcoming trade deadline. While the upper echelon teams may wind up standing pat, there is always the chance that a team like the Lakers or Bucks winds up making a last-second move before the deadline strikes.

The uncertainty of the deadline is part of what makes betting on the NBA title at this point in the season a risky proposition. Teams that look like good betting values right now may not look so appealing 48 hours from now. Of course, you can also use the uncertainty to your advantage as a bettor. If you think a team’s title odds are being undervalued, why not take a flier bet before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon?

The title race is setting up to be a fascinating one. Some trades may wind up swinging the NBA championship odds entirely, which should make for a fun betting experience.

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