The Cleveland Cavaliers have emerged with 4-1 odds of winning the 2015 NBA Finals after the announced return of LeBron James, per OddsShark. That makes Cleveland an immediate title favorite entering next season, just weeks after the team selected first overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Even the San Antonio Spurs, with 5-1 odds, are being given a lower shot of winning the championship than the Cavs. Clearly, the odds makers think it's worth betting on LeBron no matter what else happens this offseason.
The new odds are somewhat understandable, however, given the impact LeBron will have on the Eastern Conference landscape. With his move from the Miami Heat to Cleveland, there's no longer a true juggernaut in the conference, and the Cavs could quickly emerge even with their young core.
The King comes home
LeBron will surely need to adjust to playing alongside the likes of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and top 2014 pick Andrew Wiggins, but on-court flexibility has never been an issue for the four-time MVP. And while he'll surely miss teammates like Chris Bosh, it's possible Cleveland puts together a similarly impressive supporting cast in time.
And even if the Cavs can't land another big name this offseason -- they're rumored as suitors for Kevin Love, especially after the LeBron announcement -- they're still going to be dangerous. That's just what happens when you roll out the best player in the sport for 80-plus games a season.
As for the Heat, they've dropped to stunning 50-1 odds of winning the 2015 title after losing James and, most likely, Bosh. All indications point towards Bosh signing with the Houston Rockets after James' departure from South Beach, leaving the Heat with little else beyond cap flexibility and the declining Dwyane Wade.