Philly was a good bet yesterday, and the Governor of one of the nation’s second-smallest states made the right pick when he placed the first legal U.S. sports gambling bet outside of the state of Nevada at 1:30 in the afternoon at Dover Downs Casino, thanks to Delaware’s new gambling law. He wagered $10.
Gov. John Carney liked the Phillies against the Cubs, and Zach Eflin pitched eight strong innings with the wind blowing in at Wrigley Field to make the Politician of the Day a slightly richer man.
Construction crews at Dover Downs had worked through the night to install a Vegas-style sportsbook odds display monitor above the betting windows, and the place felt exactly like Vegas except for the absence of free drinks, which are verboden — for now — under the state’s current rules, which are liable to change on any given day.
Much like the speculation surrounding LeBron James’s future, both immediate and distant, what happened in Delaware on Tuesday was a momentous event in the new world of the U.S. sports gambling industry — just like tonight is a momentous night in the NBA as Game 3 of the Finals in Cleveland will go a long way toward determining whether anyone pays much attention to what is happening on the court vs. what’s going to happen off the court in the month between now and “Decision III.”
LeBron James team for 2018-19 regular season (via BetDSI Sportsbook)
Odds on LeBron returning to Cleveland stand at 30-1, making them the eighth most likely landing zone. The favorite in the land of rain forests, volcanoes and two oceanfronts is the Los Angeles Lakers at +200 (2-1). Which makes a lot of sense if you start channelling your inner LeBron and take a long, hard look at what makes the most sense.
Let’s examine each potential El Zee:
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (2-1)
If you don’t think Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and others are whispering in LeBron’s ear in some sort of way, you are kidding yourself. The league’s marquee West Coast franchise has needed a new savior since Kobe retired, and Lonzo Ball’s “I am The Next Jesus” potential is about as tenuous as a drama-free day involving every single person named Kardashian. When you hav a chance to follow in the footsteps of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Magic, Kobe and Mark Madsen, you kinda gotta take a look at it.
What’s more, if you are building a global business empire and want to set yourself and your company up for long-term success in the film/television entertainment center of the universe, if you want to dabble in a little bit of music recording, Asian outreach, global domination and legal marijuana businesses, relocating to Loa Angeles is not a bad idea. Helps when you already have a home in Brentwood.
When you throw in the fact that Paul George wants to play there, the Lakers can take on two max contracts, the fact that Kyle Kuzma is a damn good player — as is Isaiah Thomas, which gives him trade value — the notion starts to seem like not the worst idea in the history of ideas.
Wouldn’t have been a likely option (IMHO) if Bryan Colangelo hadn’t fallen into a slight Twitter mess, because going after Kawhi Leonard in a trade makes much more sense from a roster-fit standpoint. And Philly has the draft picks and assets to satisfy San Antonio. So that still might happen.
But a new regime is probably going to take power in the land where Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are the new sheriffs in town, and LeBron and Simmons share the same agent, Rich Paul. Something resembling a mentoring relationship has developed between James, Simmons and the Klutch Sports hierarchy.
So keep a close eye on the guy who takes over after Colangelo’s lawyers and Josh Harris’ lawyers finish their severance agreement. If he/she is tight with Rich Paul, read the tea leaves as you see fit.
After Hassan Whiteside is ditched for pennies on the dollar, the requisite cap space can be made available. There is no body of evidence out there suggesting that LeBron maintains anything less than great relationships with Heat honchos Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, Aldy Elisburg and others. And LeBron still have plenty of friends who would welcome him back to a nice tropical city that is not a bad place to use as your homebase. It sort of opens up a few Latin American opportunities for LeBron’s global business brands, but those will exist no matter where he lands.
Most importantly, he could win in Miami. We should all assume that the Eastern Conference is going to remain weaker than the West until that assumption becomes unsustainable.
You gotta wonder what Dave Fizdale might be able to deliver when July rolls around. He was tight with LeBron when he was an assistant coach in Miami, and that has to count for something.
Lots and lots of people with different agendas and different favorites were vying for Jim Dolan facetime during the Knicks protracted coaching search, but Scott Perry is the boss and this hire is squarely on him. And Isiah Thomas, of course.
Disposing of Joakim Noah in the most cap-friendly way is the path toward the requisite cap space that will be needed for LeBron’s $35 millionish first-year salary. Making sure Kristaps Porzingis is ready by next February is what one might call the Knicks’ other primary to-do list item.
New York might not seem like a viable candidate as we sit here on June 6, but things tend to change a bit in the NBA from year to year once the draft is behind us and the accompanying trades have been made. Check back on this landscape June 30. There is somewhat of an allure to playing in the No. 1 market in America, and the United Nations thing really doesn’t work against the Knicks.
New York is also a pretty nice place to exert one’s power politically, which everyone in the NBA is doing. In case you missed it, neither the Warriors nor the Cavs will be visiting Mr. Trump next winter. A group barbecue with the Eagles is a nice prop bet we should ponder momentarily.
All sorts of salary cap magic would need to happen for this to take place, and Chris Paul is not likely to re-sign at a discount. When you are president of the NBA Players Association, you don’t want to set that kind of standard.
But Daryl Morey has shown himself more than a little capable of thinking on his feet and going nuclear option at any given moment.
But could LeBron really co-exist in a winning way with Harden, another ball-dominant player? Or do the Rockets move Harden to turn the keys over to LeBron? You never know. Crazy things tend to happen on a day-to-day basis in the NBA.
Gregg Popovich and LeBron have a relationship that dates back to their extensive time together with USA Basketball, including the sh*tshow also known as the Athens Olympics, where the Americans lost by 19 to Puerto Rico in their opener and kind of messed up what was then a 109-2 all-time record in Olympic and World Championship competitions.
Leonard, whose father figure has moved into an agent-like role, is getting moved somewhere, and that opens up a max slot in the land of Ginobili. Can’t really see LeBron being a fit with the San Antonio lifestyle dynamic, but Austin is only a hour away. There is a big “Keep Austin Weird” movement in the capital city of Texas, so the Spurs kinf of sort of have that going for them.
This eventuality is well-documented. I keep it as a pinned tweet:
NBA source said today: “This will be LeBron’s final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair.”
— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) August 16, 2017
Good luck tonight. Keep it safe, and always remember where your business is welcome.
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