Posted on June 24, 2019, by Travis Pulver
If you just listen to the headlines, the championship window may be getting close to shutting on the Houston Rockets. They looked like they could beat the Golden State Warriors in 2017 up until they lost Chris Paul. But then last season, the Warriors lost Kevin Durant and the Rockets still couldn’t win.
Factor in all the alleged drama between James Harden and Chris Paul (and Paul’s massive contract), and it is not hard to see the window slamming shut. But is it?
According to the odds tracker at SportsBettingDime.com, that is not the case at all. They opened back on May 20th at +1200, and then rose to +1300 (as of June 14) as stories about the drama between Paul and Harden surfaced and Paul supposedly demanded a trade.
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Of course, it doesn’t help that the team has said everyone, but Harden is on the trade block. With the talent Daryl Morey has shown for wheeling and dealing, there is no telling what sort of craziness he could pull off.
With all this apparent uncertainty, it is almost surprising that the Rockets don’t have longer odds. But since reaching a high of +1300 their odds have fallen back down to +800 (+1000 at some books). However, it wouldn’t be shocking if they were to shorten a little more after Chris Paul set the record straight recently:
“I never asked for a trade,” Paul said, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I never demanded a trade.”
“I’ll be in Houston. I’m happy about that. I’m very happy about that. I’m good.”
So—assuming that the actual outlook is much better than the media has made it appear for the Rockets, are they a good bet to win the championship next season? Do they have a better shot since the Warriors are going to be down Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson next season?
Is the window still wide open?
Well–it depends on what your assessment of the Lakers is and how you perceive the Clippers (if they acquire Kawhi Leonard).
Since the news about the Anthony Davis trade broke, the Lakers have become the team to beat at most (if not all) sportsbooks. Some also have the Clippers ahead of the Rockets, but once he resigns with the Raptors, that is going to change.
If the Lakers acquire another superstar once free agency starts, their odds are going to get even shorter. Of course, short odds do not make the team a champion. The Lakers had pretty short odds last summer as well after acquiring LeBron James—but last season didn’t exactly work out well for them.
There is no guarantee that the Lakers are going to mesh and play like the team many expect them to be. They could, but they might not.
What does this mean for the Rocket and their window? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It is essentially staying the same. Assuming the Lakers live up to expectations next season is going to be just like the last two.
There will be high expectations for the Rockets, and they will make to the Western Conference Finals where they will face off with the Lakers (instead of the Warriors) for a shot to go to the Finals.