The impact of LeBron James’ decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James will sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, returning to his hometown after leaving them for the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010.

This move instantly makes the Cavaliers the NBA Championship favorite at +350, according to the latest odds at America’s Bookie, ahead of defending champion Spurs (+450) and Thunder (+550).

James’ decision to return to the Cavaliers has been one of the most anticipated moves in all of sports, and it has influenced how oddsmakers view the teams. Las Vegas sportsbooks moved the Cavs from as high as +3500 to win the NBA Championship to +700 before the announcement, and now many sportsbooks there dropped them to +450 as well, with the Spurs installed as the overall favorite at +400. The Thunder are third on the board at +700.

Online sportsbooks have done the same since James opted out of his deal with the Heat. The Cavaliers jumped from +6000 to +800 in that span, and some expected a move as low as +300 now that James has announced his intentions. But while LeBron’s recent decision shakes the foundations of the NBA, one has to wonder if Cleveland has what it takes to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy next season, as it seems that they still need to add a couple more pieces to build a Championship team.

The Cavaliers still have a lot of questions on their roster, even with James, and it takes time for teams to gel. They might roll through the Eastern Conference like the Heat did for the last four seasons, unless Carmelo Anthony signs with the Chicago Bulls, but they will be big underdogs against any number of teams out of the Western Conference, including the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The losing team in all these is the Miami Heat, who were a +250 favorite to win the NBA Championship with James returning. The Heat are now at +1500 to win the title next season, with Chris Bosh expected to leave for the Rockets and Dwyane Wade likely to find a new home as well.

Below are the complete odds to win the 2014/15 NBA Championship at America’s Bookie:

Atlanta Hawks +7500

Boston Celtics +8500

Brooklyn Nets +7500

Charlotte Hornets +7500

Chicago Bulls +700

Cleveland Cavaliers +350

Dallas Mavericks +4500

Denver Nuggets +5000

Detroit Pistons +25000

Golden State Warriors +2000

Houston Rockets +700

Indiana Pacers +1550

Los Angeles Clippers +950

Los Angeles Lakers +5000

Memphis Grizzlies +4500

Miami Heat +1500

Milwaukee Bucks +30000

Minnesota Timberwolves +12500

New Orleans Pelicans +5500

New York Knicks +5000

Oklahoma City Thunder +550

Orlando Magic +25000

Philadelphia 76ers +40000

Phoenix Suns +5000

Portland Trail Blazers +3500

Sacramento Kings +25000

San Antonio Spurs +450

Toronto Raptors +5000

Utah Jazz +25000

Washington Wizards +4000