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Cavs still NBA favourite, but Spurs close in after big free agency

Lebron James NBAALL the big NBA free agent dominoes have fallen into place except for the biggest chip of them all, Cleveland Cavalier Lebron James.

But, before Cleveland/former Miami/former Cleveland fans lose their collective minds, rest assured, he is going no where.

The world’s greatest baller is simply biding his time in his unsworn role as general manager/coach, exerting his influence on the team’s make up like no other player who has come before him.

He will eventually sign a max contract with Bovada.lv’s $3.75 title favourite Cleveland, but he’s still busy putting his roster together… erm, we mean the Cavs’ front office is busy putting the team’s roster together.

While players can’t officially sign contracts until July 10, the Cavs have pinned down gun stretch four Kevin Love with a $110 million max extension, hard rebounding big man Tristan Thompson (five years, $80 million, wowee), tendered offers to restricted free agents Aussie Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert (four years, $40 million) and exercised their team option for Euro centre Timofey Mozgov.

They’ve also agreed to terms with Lebron’s former running mate, point guard Mo Williams, who is set to sign a two year deal worth $4.3 million.

The 32 year old played with the Cavs from 2008 to 2011 and made the finals with Lebron during that stretch.

He will provide valuable insurance for the shaky knees of star point guard Kyrie Irving and adds more scoring depth to the bench.

JR Smith is still to be resolved, while Mike Miller has picked up his player option.

With a healthy Kevin Love and a healthy (until the next imminent injury) Anderson Varejao, the Cavs look a daunting proposition and deserved favourites, after they pushed the Golden State Warriors to six games in the recent NBA Finals, without either of those two, or Irving.

Any way, enough of the Cavs, the team to make the most noise this off season is the brilliant San Antonio Spurs, who acquired the biggest attainable free agent available in superstar Portland big man LaMarcus Aldridge for four years at $80 million.

The nine year Trailblazer veteran enjoyed his best season on the court, averaging 23.4 points per game and 10.2 rebounds. He made headlines for spurning an overture from the Los Angeles Lakers, because he reportedly wasn’t happy with their pitch. Too much talk about off the court opportunities, not enough about what has going to happen on it, apparently.

He might have left a lot of Blazer fans shattered, but at least he had some nice things to say about the Portland faithful.

“Dear Rip City, Thank you!” he wrote in a statement.

“Those two words on a page don’t begin to express the gratitude I have for the opportunity the entire Trail Blazers organization, my teammates, the media, and you fans gave me.

“The past nine years have been a blessing, and I will take all of the valuable memories with me as I head back home.

“As I’m sure you can respect, my decision was a very personal one but not one I took lightly.

“Although I will be wearing a different uniform the next time I come back to Portland, please know that I will always hold my time in a Blazers uniform near and dear to my heart.

“Your friend, LA”

After nine years as a Blazer, they didn’t get close to getting a chip, so it’s hard to begrudge him for moving on to the greener pastures of the Spurs.

With legend Tim Duncan returning, the Spurs shipped centre Tiago Splitter to clear money for LMA’s contract, signed the ageing, but very talented, David West to the bargain basement veteran’s minimum, re-signed star swingman Kawhi Leonard to a max deal, locked up shooter Danny Green and agreed to terms with Argentine wizard Manu Ginobili.

Add to that star French point guard Tony Parker and they may be old, but they just got very, very good. Title good.

They’re now rated a $4 second favourite with Bovada.lv.

Hard to believe it, but the reigning champion Golden State Warriors are only third on the line of betting at $6.

Despite winning the chip, the punters think a healthy Cleveland and the vastly improved Spurs have more of a chance.

But it’s hard to count the league’s reigning champs, led by the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry.

This is a historically good team that has lost nothing by the sizeable expiring contract of power forward David Lee, traded to Boston for the equally meaty contract of Gerald Wallace.

Draymond Green’s heart and hustle – and a triple double in the deciding game six Finals clash with Cleveland – netted him a five year, $85 million contract.

He seems unashamedly overpaid, but sometimes you have too do that to keep a good team together.

Green would probably be a scrub on 29 other teams, but, with the nucleus of the Warriors, he is the heart and soul.

With Klay Thompson, Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, slick Aussie centre Andrew Bogut and a bench laden with talented shooters, the Warriors will be thereabouts again.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are nipping at the Warriors’ heels, rated an $8.50 chance.

After a wretched year where they missed the playoffs due to former MVP winner Kevin Durant missing 55 games and point guard Russell Westbrook 25.

The latter was the scoring champion and just having those two on the floor healthy and together almost makes them automatic title chances. But the Thunder will also reportedly sign big centre Enes Kanter at any price and they’ve also locked in swingman Kyle Singler to a five year $25 million deal.

It’s a long way to the Chicago Bulls, fresh of signing Jimmy Butler to a max contract, on the next line of betting at $17, with the Texas teams Dallas Mavericks – who lost Monta Ellis but gained monster centre DeAndre Jordan from the Los Angelese Clippers – and the Western Conference finalists Houston Rockets next up at $23.

The Clippers loss of Jordan has seen them slip markedly, out to $26, with the Memphis Grizzlies, who signed up burly centre Marc Gasol to a five year $110 million deal, at $29.

NBA title market

Cleveland Cavaliers ($3.75)

San Antonio Spurs ($4)

Golden State Warriors ($6)

Oklahoma City Thunder ($8.50)

Chicago Bulls ($17)

Dallas Mavericks ($23)

Houston Rockets ($23)

Los Angeles Clippers ($26)

Memphis Grizzlies ($29)

Atlanta Hawks ($34)

Indiana Pacers ($41)

Miami Heat ($41)

New Orleans Pelicans ($41)

Toronto Raptors ($41)

Washington Wizards ($41)

Milwaukee Bucks ($51)

Boston Celtics ($67)

Los Angeles Lakers ($67)

Portland Trailblazers ($76)

Detroit Pistons ($101)

Phoenix Suns ($101)

Utah Jazz ($101)

Brooklyn Nets ($151)

Denver Nuggets ($151)

Minnesota Timberwolves ($151)

New York Knicks ($151)

Sacramento Kings ($151)

Charlotte Hornets ($251)

Orlando Magic ($251)

Philadelphia 76ers ($251)

* Odds provided by bovada.lv

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