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Cavs price slashed after Donovan Mitchell trade

The Donovan Mitchell blockbuster deal finally went down on Thursday. And it wasn’t to New York, after all.

The Jazz superstar was traded to the Cavaliers in a package headlined by Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, and three first-round picks. That came just two days after the Knicks declined an offer to acquire the hometown star — which had been the expectation around the league until Thursday’s stunner.

Just a week ago, Cleveland was dealing as a +10000 long shot at BetMGM despite a promising young core and plenty of trade ammunition. After Thursday’s deal, the Cavs are priced at +3000 to win it all — something they haven’t done since LeBron James led them to their only title in 2015-16.

2022-23 NBA championship odds (via BetMGM)

Boston Celtics +500
Golden State Warriors +600
Milwaukee Bucks +650
Brooklyn Nets +700
Los Angeles Clippers +700
Phoenix Suns +1000
Philadelphia 76ers +1400
Miami Heat +1600
Denver Nuggets +1800
Los Angeles Lakers +1800
Memphis Grizzlies +2000
Dallas Mavericks +2200
Cleveland Cavaliers +3000
Minnesota Timberwolves +3500
Chicago Bulls +4000
New Orleans Pelicans +4000
Atlanta Hawks +5000
Toronto Raptors +5000
New York Knicks +6600
Portland Trail Blazers +8000
Charlotte Hornets +15000
Washington Wizards +25000
Detroit Pistons +50000
Houston Rockets +50000
Indiana Pacers +50000
Oklahoma City Thunder +50000
Orlando Magic +50000
Sacramento Kings +50000
San Antonio Spurs +50000
Utah Jazz +50000

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Cavaliers among NBA Finals contenders after Mitchell trade

Cleveland was already a compelling long-shot bet after a breakout 2021-22 season, in which it posted the NBA’s best 30-game start against the spread (23-7) in 16 years and held the No. 3 seed in the East with a 50-win pace at the All-Star break. But injuries took their toll on this upstart group: first Sexton, then Ricky Rubio, then star center Jarrett Allen, whose late-season absence ultimately knocked this team from postseason contention.

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell reacts to the fans in the second half of Game 4 of a first-round playoff series against the Mavericks Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Salt Lake City.
Donovan Mitchell reacts to the fans in the second half of Game 4 of a first-round playoff series against the Mavericks.

Now this group adds Mitchell, a three-time All-Star who averaged 25.9 points and 5.3 assists last season and presents another dynamic scoring option alongside fellow All-Star Darius Garland and rising star Evan Mobley. With Mitchell and Garland, in particular, the Cavaliers are one of just five teams in the NBA with two top-20 scorers from last season.

The Jazz had two of the NBA’s best players just a few months ago, but the blockbuster deals of Mitchell and center Rudy Gobert — whom the team shipped to Minnesota earlier this summer — have left them with one of the league’s most uninspiring rosters entering the season. It should come as no surprise that Utah, which was already dealing as a +15000 long shot, is now tied for the longest title odds, and even that might be generous with more moves likely to come amid Danny Ainge’s rebuild.

Is there still value on Cavaliers?

With their odds slashed by 70% after Thursday’s news, you may be kicking yourself for not betting the Cavaliers beforehand. This team was certainly an intriguing dart throw before the deal, but it still lacked a true “A1” ball-handling star, which tends to be a prerequisite for championship success in today’s NBA.

They have that now in Mitchell, and his playoff bona fides — which include two 50-point games and the seventh-highest scoring average (28.3) in NBA history — are the stuff of legend. Is that enough to carry this group over the top? On paper, this is a top-five roster in the East with upside to climb, especially if we see continued growth from the young core of Mobley (21), Garland (22), Allen (24) and Mitchell (25).

Darius Garland
Darius Garland
Getty Images

Betting on Sports?

As of Friday, this group is dealing as the sixth-best team in the East and at nearly double the price of the fifth-place Heat (+1600). Even if it’s likely a year too early to expect real championship aspirations, there’s still value on a team that is suddenly built to compete with the best in the league.

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