NBA Free Agency: Winners & Losers For 2024 Offseason

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 29: Luguentz Dort #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates after the game against the New Orleans Pelicans during Round 1 Game 4 of the 2024 NBA Playoffs on April 29, 2024 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
(Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jul 03, 2024, 2:27 PM
  • NBA Free Agency isn’t over yet, but winners and losers are already being crowned.
  • The Thunder and 76ers are now tied for second in the NBA championship odds table.
  • All four California teams are worse off now than they were two weeks ago.

After a wild opening to the 2024 free agency period, handicappers are now taking a step back to evaluate winners and losers ahead of next year.

Here, I’ve compared teams’ NBA futures odds right now to where they were just a few weeks ago. 

That should give NBA fans a fairly mathematical take on the winners and losers of free agency, at least so far. 

NBA Free Agency: Winners and Losers (2024)

TeamJune 18 OddsJuly 3 OddsOdds Change

NBA Free Agency Winners: Philadelphia 76ers

If the biggest prize of the 2024 free agency cycle was Paul George, then the 76ers are one of the biggest winners by any traditional sense. 

Big Three terminology is way overused these days, but the 76ers acquired a legitimate Big Three by adding George. And unlike George’s previous core with the Clippers, a Big Three of Tyrese Maxey, Joel Embiid, and George actually makes loads of basketball sense on the court. Philadelphia should have great inside-out talent and court spacing – especially with the addition of Duke prospect Jared McCain. 

During the Embiid era, the 76ers have been the poster child for missed expectations. Now, they’re No. 2 in the table. We’ll see if things change next spring, but I’m bullish on what Philadelphia has built under Nick Nurse. 

NBA Free Agency Losers: Miami Heat

Far be it for mere mortals like myself to question Heat Culture, but I’m not sure I really understand what’s going on in Miami right now.

The Heat have a simmering feud with their own star, Jimmy Butler, that seems destined to end with a midseason trade. They extended Bam Adebayo, brought back Kevin Love, and signed … Dru Smith? Seriously?

The East had an explosive free agency period, and a clear upper crust is forming in the northeast. Miami is already old and declining, and its relationship with its best player is declining. 

The only way this offseason makes sense is if Miami is setting up a tank job for a top draft pick in 2025. Otherwise, the self-talk about culture over talent is increasingly delusional. 

NBA Free Agency Winners: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder didn’t just sign Isaiah Hartenstein – they dropped a huge, even-bigger-than-necessary bag of cash at his feet just because they could. 

In adding Hartenstein from the Knicks and trading for Alex Caruso from the Bulls, the Thunder made a huge upgrade to their rebounding ability and overall defensive prowess. 

Considering they already have an MVP candidate in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder look to me like they should be the Western Conference favorite. Until the NBA odds reflect that, I see a clear betting opportunity here. 

NBA Free Agency Losers: Every Single California Team

There are four NBA teams in California, and all four of their title odds got longer between the end of the Finals and now. Not a single one is a free agency winner.

The Lakers (+3000) are ostensibly the best of the bunch, at least according to the odds. And if you’re making a bullish case for Los Angeles, I quite like the fact that Dalton Knecht fell to them in the draft. 

That said, the Lakers slipped from +2500 to +3000 in part because their potential to add to the team in free agency failed to materialize in a big way. Klay Thompson spurned the Lakers because he (correctly) felt the Mavericks were a more competitive team in the West.

The Warriors (+4000) not only lost Thompson, but also couldn’t put together a trade package for George. 

Without George, the Clippers (+5000) are now even more reliant on the fickle health of Kawhi Leonard than they were before.

The Kings (+8000) still have the same explosive guard play that they did in 2022, but the West has collectively exceeded Sacramento’s talent level. 

NBA Free Agency Winners: New York Knicks

The Knicks were a popular title bet the moment the BetMGM online sportsbook hung new NBA championship odds for next season. As of Monday, they were carrying about 9% of the ticket share, trailing only the Celtics, Lakers, and Nuggets.

In other words, New York didn’t need to make any splashy moves. But they did anyway, trading for Mikal Bridges and firmly thrusting New York onto a short list of real contenders.

Bridges undoubtedly adds to head coach Tom Thibodeau’s culture of defense and toughness. But curiously, it seemed to add even more to the cultural perception of the Knicks, tripling down on the Villanova DNA of the current team. 

Does that matter on the court? Probably not. But ask all the college basketball fans in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania if they’re more or less likely to bet on the Nova Knicks after the Bridges trade. 

From a pop betting perspective, the Bridges trade may ultimately matter a great deal.

NBA Free Agency Losers: Milwaukee Bucks & Denver Nuggets

I want to focus on Milwaukee here, because I think their status as a loser is much more clear than Denver. 

The central question is this: How much respect does a semi-recent champion get, and when does it fully drain away? The Bucks won the championship in 2021; since then, they’ve won one playoff series. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been hurt during the playoffs twice. The team has devolved from an elite defensive team to an average one, at best.

The Bucks have two very good players at the center of their roster, which means they could be great again. But that requires adding to the roster – not only to make themselves better, but to deny potential Eastern competitors the ability to do the same. Delon Wright isn’t going to be enough. 

Denver is a little younger on the post-championship curve, so I’ll look at the Nuggets more forgivingly. Still, the Nuggets – who lost Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to Orlando – must deal with teams in Dallas, Minnesota, and Oklahoma City that all got better. 

Denver could be forgiven for thinking that slightly better luck and a healthy Jamaal Murray probably gets it back to the NBA Finals. A soft touch is totally defensible. But the slide back out of the championship picture comes faster than most realize.

Mostly Static During Free Agency: Boston Celtics 

It would feel dramatic and unfair to label the Celtics as losers, just a couple of weeks after they won the championship. So I’m not going to do that.

But let’s consider the Celtics’ situation for a second. Boston’s 2024-25 regular season will include a 39-year-old Al Horford and a Kristaps Porzingis, who likely won’t play until the calendar flips. Half the roster just got paid. Philadelphia and New York both got a lot better. The 2025 playoffs couldn’t possibly be easier. The league has trended against repeat champions in the post-Warriors era. 

The Celtics have a good, deep roster of players, so it’s difficult for them to win much at free agency. But other teams in their immediate orbit could ostensibly match their talent and their health in 2025, and the Celtics’ odds will remain at the top of the market for at least the next several months. 

From a fan perspective, the Celtics should feel reasonably good; from an online sports betting perspective, I’ll be looking for opportunities to play against the Celtics in the NBA futures market.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.