Wherever Kevin Durant goes, oddsmakers and bettors follow.
With Durant’s back-to-back NBA titles in 2017-2018 fresh in mind, Durant has altered NBA future odds by requesting a trade from the Brooklyn Nets following a season of volatility and disappointment.
He reportedly prefers a move to the Phoenix Suns or Miami Heat, according to ESPN, which revised the entire NBA futures board. The Suns jumped to +550 co-favorites along with the Boston Celtics to win the 2022-23 NBA title at Tipico Sportsbook.
The defending champion Golden State Warriors have become the 6/1 third choice, followed by the Los Angeles Clippers (+650) and the 2021 champion Milwaukee Bucks (7/1).
The Heat are 10/1 at Tipico, down from 13/1 one day after the Warriors defeated the Celtics in the final.
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Bookmakers favor Durant to land in Phoenix because he has the ability to negotiate a sign-and-trade deal that would likely include the Suns’ former No. 1 overall draft pick — restricted free-agent center Deandre Ayton — and some others from one of the league’s most talented rosters.
Nets general manager Sean Marks, of course, is free to deal the former MVP and four-time scoring champion — who averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists last season — wherever he’d like.
“Kevin Durant has been a top-five player in the league for the last 10 years. Whatever team he plays for will certainly have a chance at the championship, which is why operators have to adjust odds accordingly,” Tipico Sportsbook spokesman Sunny Gupta said.
Durant famously split from the Oklahoma City Thunder to join Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. While with the Warriors, he won two NBA Finals MVP awards before opting to join Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn three years ago.
Spotty play of former MVP teammate James Harden, Irving’s limited play due his unwillingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Durant’s MCL injury and then Harden’s trade to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons sabotaged Durant’s efforts to be part of another championship team in Brooklyn.
Confronting the forthcoming loss of Durant, the Nets are also saddled with another unappetizing deal after Irving planned to invoke his $36.5 million player option.
Brooklyn plummeted from +650 at last season’s end to the 11th choice at Tipico at 20/1.
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The fact that Irving may reunite with LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Russell Westbrook, who reportedly activated his $47 million option, moved the Lakers’ title odds from 20/1 to 12/1.
Irving and James teamed up to win the 2016 NBA title in Cleveland.
Now, thanks to Durant’s wishes, the favorite appears to be Phoenix, led by veteran point guard Chris Paul and All-Star guard Devin Booker, who just signed a four-year, $224 million supermax contract extension with the Suns.
Coach Monty Williams was formerly an assistant with Oklahoma City while Durant was there.
At the Las Vegas Superbook, basketball analyst Jeff Sherman has the Suns slotted as the +650 second choice behind the known commodity of the Celtics, at 6/1.
Sherman said while there has been mention of Durant going to the Toronto Raptors or some other team, like New Orleans or Orlando, he doesn’t believe that will happen.
“All Durant has to say is, ‘I’m not going to report to camp if I go there,'” Sherman said. “I took into account he wants to go to Phoenix or Miami, and, ultimately, these guys have the power to dictate where they want to go.
“At 34, with four years left on his contract, I doubt he’ll be amenable to Toronto. It might take another team to be involved in this deal, but a player like Durant can force his way to the team he wants.”
If it becomes official Phoenix has its own “big three” of Durant, Booker and Paul, Sherman predicts the Suns’ odds will improve again toward “the 3/1 range.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kevin Durant rumors give Phoenix Suns’ NBA title odds a boost