When the Los Angeles Lakers signed LeBron James bettors thought the team was going to win an NBA Championship, now they would just be happy to see them make the playoffs. For the first time since acquiring James in June, the Lakers are not a favorite to make the postseason.
That would break a streak of 13 consecutive appearances for James. The team that drafted him, the Cleveland Cavaliers, failed to make it the first two years of James in the league. The Lakers are currently in the 10th spot, with the top eight teams making the postseason.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook readjusted its odds over the All-Star weekend, and the Lakers are now a -125 not to make the playoffs, as opposed to a +105 to play past the regular season.
That is a big difference from when the famed sportsbook released its postseason odds shortly before the beginning of the season. Then Los Angeles was a -450 to make it, with the number at one point at -600.
Jeff Sherman, vice president of risk at the Westgate told ESPN.com they are seeing a shift in gambler’s faith on the Lakers and the postseason.
“With the trade deadline having passed and the length of the break over the next week due to the All-Star Game, this prop is polarizing,” Sherman said. “It’s at the forefront of interest considering the Lakers’ record at this point of the season.”
James Still Optimistic
The team’s chances to win the title have also plummeted. Before James was signed they were at 20/1, then got as low as 12/1 once James signed with Los Angeles. Now, however, they are at 40/1.
The last time the Lakers were in the playoffs was 2013, when they lost in the first round. The 2014 season was the first time since 2005 they failed to get to the postseason. The team has been in existence for 58 seasons, and has 49 appearances, including 11 championships.
This is also unfamiliar territory for James, who suffered through a rough first two seasons with the Cavaliers when he first entered the league. Since then, though, he has been the postseason 13 consecutive years, including seven straight trips to the NBA Finals.
When asked by reporters about it last week, after an embarrassing loss to non-playoff Atlanta, James was a bit curt when asked about the prospect of getting to the playoffs.
“You either make it or you don’t make it,” James said. “That’s when you worry about it.”
He expanded on his answer a little later.
“You got to decompress and get away from the game a little bit,” James said. “Those guys will have a lot more time than I will, obviously. I’ll be right back into it in two days. But just get fresh, get your minds right, get your bodies right. Come back with the notion that we’ll make the playoffs.”
Turmoil, Injuries Affecting Chances
It has been a rough season for the Lakers as they reached the All-Star break. The team has been hit hard by injuries, including a groin injury suffered by James on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors. James was out for 17 games, the most time he has ever missed as a professional.
Coach Luke Walton is also feeling the heat. He has been besieged by firing rumors for most of the season, and oddsmakers don’t believe he’ll be back with the team next year.
BetOnline recently released odds of who would be coaching the Lakers next season and Walton was the third choice at 4/1. Jason Kidd was the favorite at 3/1, and former James coach Ty Lue was next at 7/2.