Among the eight teams not heading to Orlando for the NBA reboot are the New York Knicks. They’ll have a great draft pick this year as they try and put a winning product together for their next coach. The team did hire William “World Wide Wes” Wesley as a creative consultant.
Knicks Out, Nets In
The “other” team in New York, the Brooklyn Nets will be playing in the reboot starting at the end of July, though Knicks fans shouldn’t be too salty about it. Brooklyn will be playing without its two superstars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
The best hope for the Nets would be to go 6-2 or 7-1 in the eight games so they can ride momentum into their first-round matchup. They will likely be playing the Bucks or Raptors, which nobody wants to have to do.
Brooklyn currently has +30000 odds to win the NBA title at BetRivers as well as +10000 odds to win the Eastern Conference.
Coronavirus in Orlando
The COVID-19 cases in Florida have spiked dramatically over the past week, putting a little damper on the excitement of the NBA reboot. And every day, we’re finding out five to 10 more players have tested positive for this virus.
The bright side of this is they contracted it before playing and are asymptomatic for the most part. So, they will be safer in large crowds as a result. It’s still terrible to see these positive tests, but that is the lone silver lining.
Players Sitting Out
For all the players coming back to play, many are exercising their option to remain at home. Among those are Davis Bertans, Avery Bradley, and Trevor Ariza. All three of these guys would have played key roles in their teams’ hopeful success for this year.
This changes betting odds significantly for the Portland Trail Blazers, who do not have another true small forward on their roster to replace Ariza. The Lakers will likely be adding another guard to replace Bradley, who was a starter.
For the Wizards, it’s basically the end. They added Jerian Grant in Bertrans’ place.
Betting On The Resumed Season
Despite the loss of Bradley, the Lakers are considered the favorites to take the NBA Finals when the season resumes, getting +240 odds at BetRivers. Milwaukee is a close second at +250, while the LA Clippers complete the trio of favorites at +333.
The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is still the odds-on favorite to win the Most Valuable Player Award, getting -5000 odds. LeBron James is at +1000, while Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic and James Harden are tied at +10000.
Virus Concerns When Play Begins
Among the players to reveal a recent positive test is Buddy Hield. He was playing pickup ball in Oklahoma in the past few weeks, likely the leading cause in his positive test. With the point of going to Orlando being to hoop, this may not be the only case.
When these players start hand-checking and sweating on one another, the virus could be easily transmitted. This is far and away the most pressing worry. Handshakes and post-game jersey exchanges will likely need to be put on hold.
The players being in such close proximity could allow a quick spread of the virus if anybody has it.
What the Knicks Can Learn
This is a critical offseason for the Knicks, as they have struggled for several years since their last playoff trip with Carmelo Anthony. They will need to make sure to make the right choice for head coach and hope they win the lottery and get the No. 1 overall pick.
The early odds at DraftKings on the player that will be taken first have Georgia’s Anthony Edwards at -110. Memphis’ James Wiseman is next at +175, with LaMelo Ball the only other player with better than +1000 odds at +250.
Though they whiffed on marquee free agents last year, the Knicks did sign several new players. If they can convince one above-average guy to sign, they may well be on their way. They are closer to on-court relevance than you might think.