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The Phoenix Suns have been in a bit of development hell for a number of years now, constantly struggling to make the playoffs as Devin Booker’s patience wears thin. Despite signing an extension that would keep him in Phoenix until 2024, keeping Booker in town would be difficult should they continue to disappoint.
Enter Chris Paul, a perennial All-Star and an eventual Hall of Famer. The Suns gave up a lot of pieces in the trade for Paul, losing key rotational players Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre Jr. After averaging 21.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in last year’s NBA Playoffs, Paul’s stock grew even higher despite entering his 16th season at 35 years old.
After acquiring Paul the Phoenix Suns have jumped in the sportsbooks, with DraftKings Sportsbook giving them a +4000 to win the NBA Championship – good enough for 13th in the league in title chances. The Suns also acquired the scarcely used Abdel Nader, the NBA’s only Egyptian player.
With his contract coming up on expiry, Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are entering a contentious period in their relationship. The two-time MVP surely wants to add an NBA Championship to his resume, but a second-round loss to the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Playoffs seems to have cooled his long-term interest in the Bucks.
By acquiring Jrue Holiday in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, the Bucks have added a steadiness at point guard. The holiday is one of the league’s best two-way players, with a perimeter-oriented offensive game and a defensive output not dissimilar from the reliable Bledsoe.
Through the Holiday transaction, the Bucks were flagged by the NBA for possible tampering due to an agreement with the Kings’ Bogdan Bogdanovic that went sour. With the transaction being leaked, then falling through, the NBA decided to put forth an investigation on the Bucks’ pursuits. Despite the controversy, the Bucks remain the runner-up to the Lakers in title odds this season.
It is a credit to the Toronto Raptors that their two coveted big men in Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol were hotly pursued by both the Clippers and the Lakers. While the Raptors suffer the losses, the City of Los Angeles has added two 2019 NBA Champions.
After losing Montrezl Harrell to their city rivals, the Clippers decided to fill the void with the veteran big man and defensive ace Serge Ibaka. He doesn’t fix their rebounding issues, but his offensive output is much more diverse. On the Lakers side of town, Harrell is joined by former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol. An expert playmaker and inside-outside threat, Gasol’s lack of pace is more than made up for with his playmaking and basketball IQ.
The Lakers didn’t just make waves in the frontcourt though, as they added German point guard Dennis Schroder to their ranks earlier this offseason. The Lakers are the current favorites to win the NBA title (+300), with the Clippers not far behind (+550).
It wasn’t long ago that Gordon Hayward spurned his Utah Jazz for the Boston Celtics, citing Championship hopes and an excellent relationship with Brad Stevens for his decision. After entering free agency once again this offseason, Hayward decided to join the struggling Charlotte Hornets on a four-year, $120 million deal.
Hayward hasn’t quite looked the same since his horrific injury during his Boston Celtics debut. Despite those struggles, Hayward continued to be valuable as a role player for the Celtics. With the Hornets, he will look to regain his once All-Star worthy form.
It may be a bit of an awkward situation for Hayward, as he joins former Celtics teammate Terry Rozier who was concerned with his opportunities being taken by Hayward. Despite their recent acquisitions of LaMelo Ball via the draft and Hayward via free agency, the sportsbooks haven’t given the Hornets much respect. They are currently in a three-way tie with the Cavaliers and the Pistons for the worst chances to win the NBA title (+50000).
The Toronto Raptors have been working in tandem with the Canadian Government for a number of months with the hopes that the 2019 NBA Champions could compete at home this season. Their appeal was not approved, forcing the Toronto Raptors to be hosted by the city of Tampa Bay for the 2020-2021 season.
The last time that a team had to be hosted in another city was when the then New Orleans Hornets were suffering the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The Hornets played out of Oklahoma City for a year, branding themselves as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.
The Raptors haven’t made a statement on where they might play post-season matches, should they qualify, but until health and safety measures due to the coronavirus pandemic change, Tampa Bay seems to be their home. The Toronto Raptors currently rank seventh (+2000) in odds to win the NBA Championship.
Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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