Adjustments made to futures lines

Adjustments made to futures lines

Jeff Haney explains why adjustments made to futures lines after the NBA Draft had nothing to do with any of the players selected

Forget the heralded top two picks in last week's NBA draft, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.

The big winners from a betting perspective weren't the Portland Trail Blazers, who selected Oden with the No. 1 pick, or the Seattle SuperSonics, who picked Durant second.

The Blazers and Sonics remain middling NBA teams, and their place at the head of the draft class was already built into their odds to win the league championship or the Western Conference title in 2007-08.

Instead, the teams that emerged as winners from the draft and its related flurry of transactions were the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks, two once-proud franchises from the Eastern Conference working to make themselves relevant again.

Before draft week, the Celtics were tied with four other also-rans as the longest shot on the board to win next season's NBA title, at odds of 300-1. Now, after a draft-night trade in which they acquired Ray Allen from Seattle, the Celtics are listed at "only" 100-1 to win the championship, according to odds at the Las Vegas Hilton sports book.

In a similar adjustment, the odds on the Knicks dropped from 200-1 to 100-1 after New York completed a trade with Portland for talented but troubled star Zach Randolph.

Odds on the Knicks and Celtics to win the Eastern Conference title also dropped, from 60-1 to 33-1 on the Knicks and from 75-1 to 33-1 on the Celtics.

The line moves demonstrated that even in the NBA, with its relatively small rosters and five-man lineups, deals for established veterans who can make an immediate impact often carry more weight with bettors and oddsmakers than highly touted draftees who might take some time to mature.

Allen came to the Celtics with the No. 35 pick (Glen Davis) in exchange for the No. 5 pick (Jeff Green), Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. But ol' Jesus Shuttleworth was the key to the deal - and the betting line move. He figures to team with small forward Paul Pierce and power forward Al Jefferson in a new-look offense as Boston tries to make a playoff run.

At 100-1, the Knicks certainly aren't one of the favorites to win the title, but the betting marketplace did have a favorable reaction to New York's acquisition of Randolph, who came over with guards Fred Jones and Dan Dickau in a deal for Steve Francis and Channing Frye.

The Knicks also selected Wilson Chandler from DePaul with the 23rd pick, but it was Randolph (23.6 points, 10.1 rebounds last season) who drove the adjustment in the odds despite his history of off-the-court antics. Randolph has been arrested for driving under the influence, suspended for punching a teammate in practice, and this past season was found to have visited a strip club in Portland after requesting a three-game bereavement leave to attend a funeral in Indiana.

There's also a question of how he'll meld on the court with fellow big man Eddy Curry, and whether either will deign to play any defense.

The Knicks and Celtics commanded the only two "downward" moves in the NBA future book after the flurry of draft-week activity, and just two other teams - the Washington Wizards and New Jersey Nets - saw any shift in their odds. The odds on Washington and New Jersey drifted up slightly, from 50-1 to 60-1 to win the league title and from 17-1 to 20-1 to win the Eastern Conference.

The Wizards drafted guard Nick Young from USC, a talented player but one who does not fill the team's need for a powerful presence up front.

The Nets ended up with Sean Williams, who had been kicked off his Boston College team after a checkered college career. Former NBA coach John Lucas, who has been working with Williams, told the Boston Globe before the draft: "(Williams') issue is, he just wants to smoke some weed sometimes - and you can't," adding, "I would venture to say he hasn't smoked any more weed than a lot of the other guys who are going to get drafted. The difference is he got caught."

There was no movement elsewhere in the NBA future book - not at the top, where the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns remain 7-2 co-favorites followed by the San Antonio Spurs at 5-1, and not with the Blazers or Sonics, who both remained at 60-1 even after making the first two picks.

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