Author: Brett Pollakoff

LeBron James

Cavaliers open as Vegas favorites to win NBA title


The Cavaliers didn’t even finish the regular season with the best record in the East, much less as the league’s top-seeded team entering the postseason.

But as far as the oddsmakers are concerned, they’re the favorites to win the NBA title.

From David Purdum of

The Westgate SuperBook made the Cavaliers 9-4 favorites after Wednesday’s games were completed. The Golden State Warriors are a close second at 5-2. The defending champion San Antonio Spurs, at 4-1, are the only other team with single-digit odds at the SuperBook.

The Cavs, the second seed in the Eastern Conference, were the consensus favorites in Vegas and could be found Thursday as low as even money at Caesars sportsbook to win the title.

This doesn’t mean that the Cavaliers are the actual favorites to win it all. As with everything in Las Vegas, this is all about the money.

The goal of a sportsbook in setting lines like these is to limit risk above all else. What this tells us more than anything is that any team featuring LeBron James is likely to draw the most interest from the betting public, experts and so-called “sharps” excluded.

The Warriors have had an incredible season, and anyone who’s followed the NBA closely knows that they are the league’s most formidable team entering the postseason; the Spurs and Bulls may pose a legitimate challenge, as well.

But Cleveland is where the casual fans will tend to gravitate with their betting dollars, and Vegas oddsmakers aren’t going to expose themselves in the event that LeBron and company end up being able to pull off a somewhat mild upset.

The complete odds from the Westgate SuperBook are listed below.

Cavaliers 9-4
Warriors 5-2
Spurs 4-1
Hawks 12-1
Bulls 14-1
Clippers 14-1
Rockets 14-1
Grizzlies 25-1
Raptors 50-1
Trail Blazers 50-1
Mavericks 60-1
Pelicans 100-1
Wizards 60-1
Bucks 200-1
Celtics 200-1
Nets 200-1

Report: Nike close to securing long-term NBA uniform rights deal


When the NBA announced a spontaneous press conference earlier this week to discuss a “landmark new marketing partnership” that would be held at Jordan Brand’s Terminal 23 space in Manhattan, there was at least some speculation that Nike (or Jordan) may have landed the new apparel deal, which would have been fairly big news.

As it turned out, the press conference was all about beverages — PepsiCo became an official partner on a five-year deal, for the first time since 1986.

But we may yet see that apparel deal presser take place in the very near future.

From Terry Lefton of Sports Business Daily:

Nike is close to securing a long-term NBA uniform rights deal. Sources said the framework for a deal has been reached, the outline of which will be presented to ownership today in N.Y. during a meeting of the Exec Committee and tomorrow before the full NBA BOG. Multiple sources said that while the two sides have an agreement in principle, they are still some distance from a signed deal. However, Nike’s new on-court rights will not begin for more than another two years. Nike and the NBA still have “a million I’s to dot and T’s to cross,” said a senior industry source, “but it’s at that stage, as opposed to getting to the right number.” The new deal will take effect in time for the ’17-18 NBA season, after the rights held by 11-year incumbent uniform rights-holder adidas expire. After adidas dropped out, the NBA said it hoped to announce a new uniform deal this spring. adidas’ current agreement is valued at $400M over 11 years, and a Nike deal is certainly expected to surpass that in value. Sources said that for the first time, the deal will include the rights to put a manufacturer’s logo on NBA jerseys. Currently, adidias’ logo only appears on NBA warm-ups. One source said that both Nike’s swoosh and its Jordan Brand Jumpman logo could appear on NBA jerseys. Those details will not be finalized for some time, the source added. NBA Exec VP/Communications Mike Bass would not comment on a possible agreement.

This should come as anything but a surprise.

Nike dominates the basketball shoe market from a consumer standpoint, and (along with its Jordan Brand) essentially prints money on a weekly basis by regularly selling out of high-priced retros and new releases.

Getting one or both of those logos on the NBA jerseys would be a huge coup, and would only add to the brand’s level of influence in the basketball marketplace. It will be especially interesting to see if Jordan Brand’s Jumpman logo is prominently involved, as this initial report suggests.

The NBA’s official apparel provider is currently adidas, but the contract ends in 2017, and adidas has already made it known that it won’t attempt to extend its deal when the time comes. Under Armour was believed to be a possibility, but if Nike came calling with the right amount of money, that partnership would simply be one too good and too tempting for the league to even consider passing up.

Stan Van Gundy on Pistons’ free agents Greg Monroe and Reggie Jackson: We want them back

Detroit Pistons Introduce Stan Van Gundy

NEW YORK — The Pistons beat the Knicks by 22 points on the final night of the regular season, but with only ping pong balls in play for what essentially was little more than an exhibition contest, talk of what may become of Detroit’s roster in the future dominated the pregame conversation.

Greg Monroe and Reggie Jackson are the team’s two most prominent free agents, and Stan Van Gundy, who has the title of president in addition to the one he holds as head coach, says he’d like to see both of them return next season — if the price is right.

“We want Greg back, we want Reggie back,” Van Gundy said during his customary pregame availability session. “Again, they all have decisions to make in the whole thing. Our decision process will obviously be what to offer and all of that, but we want those guys back. And then we’ve got to talk about all of our other guys, too.”

Technically, only Monroe has the ability to leave without any organizational interference. He played out this season on a one-year deal specifically to secure that right, after being unable to come to terms on a long-term deal as a restricted free agent last summer.

Jackson, though — who was acquired from the Thunder at the trade deadline — is in the same situation Monroe was a season ago. If the Pistons truly want him back, they can make that happen by simply matching any offer he receives.

But as Van Gundy intimated, it won’t be that simple.

“We would like to bring back guys and have some continuity, but part of it will come down to budget — I don’t mean for this year, but going forward. How much money do you want to lock in now compared to what you need to add to the roster, what’s best, all of that. A lot of considerations.”

Van Gundy praised the way Monroe has handled his situation all season long, and truly believes he hasn’t yet given his future very much thought. He pointed out that even if the two sides were ready to sit down and negotiate, they couldn’t, because the NBA prohibits all free agents from negotiating new deals before July 1.

But the Pistons have some thinking to do before then, in terms of sorting out exactly how they want to build their team moving forward, and how much future salary cap space they want to potentially tie up by signing two very good players. With their season officially over, Van Gundy is prepared to take on that challenge.

“I think (general manager) Jeff Bower and our assistant GMs are ready to have that discussion, so I’ll get involved with that in the next couple of weeks, actually,” he said.

Gilbert Arenas: Canadian national anthem is ‘wasting 5 minutes of warmup time’

arenas wizards

Gilbert Arenas is no longer in the NBA, but played seven full seasons for the Washington Wizards, and is evidently still a huge fan.

Arenas took to Instagram to proclaim his love for his former team, posting a picture of his old uniform along with a caption that took shots (no pun intended) at Chicago and Toronto, one of which will face the Wizards in the first round of the playoffs.

Im ready…..the #DMV is ready….toronto yall dont want these problems…CANADA im sorry but ur players still dont know ur national anthem songz…unless #drake put that in a song…yall just wasting 5 mins of warmup time…im just saying we have older players..and that #bengay runs out by time the game start….#BULLS u better not drop that game tomorrow….or we frying up some bologna and yes were gonna keep the ring on it..hahahaha #trashtalking101

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri would be the most likely to fire back here, although since Arenas is not in the league anymore, his comments probably don’t warrant any type of real response.

[via SLAM]

Pacers receive NBA approval to wear ‘Flo-Jo’ uniforms for final game of regular season

Paul George

Once the Nets were blown out at home by the Bulls on Monday, the Pacers suddenly gained control of their playoff destiny.

Win the final two games of the regular season, and they would get in. The only problem, of course, was that the two games that remained seemed difficult on the surface — a back-to-back set that featured a home contest against the Wizards, followed by a trip to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies the very next night.

Indiana beat Washington to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive, but needed two overtimes to do so. The Pacers may be fatigued against a Grizzlies team that can be tough to face, so they’ll take any edge they can find — and that includes their uniform choice.

The official release:

The Indiana Pacers will wear their iconic Flo-Jo jerseys once again for Wednesday’s nationally-televised game at Memphis, the final game of the regular season. The Pacers have received approval from the NBA to wear their throwback uniforms for Wednesday’s game, which will be televised locally on FOX Sports Indiana and nationally on ESPN. Indiana can clinch a playoff berth for the fifth straight year with a win over the Grizzlies.

A longtime fan favorite, the Pacers originally wore the Flo-Jo jerseys, designed by USA Track and Field star Florence Griffith-Joyner, for seven seasons from 1990-1997; which coincided with the first major steps of success of the franchise during its NBA Years. During that time, the Pacers made six appearances in the playoffs and two Eastern Conference Finals appearances. …

This season, the team originally wore the Flo-Jo jerseys in six games as part of the NBA’s Hardwood Classics program. After receiving permission from the NBA, the team wore them on April 10 in Detroit. The Pacers have not lost when wearing the jerseys, winning by an average of 10.7 points per game.

That last part is key, and Indiana will hope to continue the trend one last time in order to sneak into the postseason.