When former Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James announced in July that he was going to leave the Cavs for a second time to go to the Los Angeles Lakers, there was plenty of discussion about just how the odds of the Lakers winning the NBA title this season would change.
Adding the greatest player in the world is always a plus, but the Lakers have had a tough go of it, and James has had the longest injury of his career which has stopped him and the team from being as good as they could be at this point in the season.
The latest drama with James comes from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who has covered James since he came into the league back in 2003.
With the Lakers dropping down in the standings, there’s been plenty of speculation as to when James might be able to return to the court again from his groin injury.
Windhorst is under the belief that the Lakers have caused confusion over the severity of James’ injury with their announcements.
“It’s either that they were not truthful or that this injury is worse than they thought it was,” Windhorst said on ESPN’s The Jump.
It’s odd that they would be able to hide a lot of the info from the media over the severity of the injury of the 34-year-old future Hall of Famer, but at the same time, James’ age might be a bigger factor than the team is talking about in this ongoing drama.
“Which is fine. He’s 34 years old, he’s never had an injury like this before,” Windhorst said. “If it’s just taken longer to get back then it’s just taken longer to get back.
“But when you have the team saying one thing and you have his agent, Rich Paul, on the record saying this is a three-to-six week injury from day one, especially in the era right now where there is more of a demand for transparency because of the betting on these games… this is a worrisome thing.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how many games he’s missed because all that matters is when he comes back.”
The Lakers are now 40-1 to win the NBA Title this season with the best oddsmakers having Los Angeles sitting at 20-1 to win the Western Conference.
Los Angeles’ odds have only gone down with James’ injury having the biggest impact, but if you were to put some money on them now and James does what James does and comes back as the best player in the game, you could clean up some quick cash betting on maybe the greatest player of all-time. The Golden State Warriors are still up top for both the NBA Title and the West, sitting at 5/8 to win their third straight NBA Championship and fourth in five seasons, and are 5/13 to win the Western Conference.
On January 2nd it appeared that the Los Angeles Lakers were in much better shape in the West, as they sat at 30-1 to win the NBA title, and now that number has dropped quite a bit since James’ injury appears to be nowhere near close to being healed.
Windhorst’s theory that the injury might be worse than the team is letting on is making more sense the more games that James misses, and as of now there does not appear to be any end in sight as the Lakers keep struggling out west.
“Even the Lakers’ latest statement on this – they made a statement that he is going to practice in a week,” Windhorst said.
“I’ve never even heard of a press release where they say a guy is going to practice in a week, even that is odd. This whole thing has been handled oddly and I don’t know why but it’ not quite what we normally see.”
The over/under wins for the Lakers to start the season according to various sports books were 48 wins, and right now they sit at 25-23 bet odds, so reaching that total with James on the shelf is not going to be easy as it might as first seemed.
Time will tell if Windhorst is right about James and his coming back to the team, or if this issue will continue through the All-Star break into the second half of the year as the Lakers chances’ of winning a title continue to dwindle.
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