By Sam Spiegelman
Now that the major dominoes in NBA free agency have fallen, Bovada has released its updated odds for the 2015 championship. Oh, and how things have changed.
With LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team has overtaken the defending champion San Antonio Spurs as the favorites for 2015. The return of Derrick Rose and addition of Pau Gasol have certainly impacted the Chicago Bulls' chances, while the departure of Chandler Parsons has seemingly had no effect on the Houston Rockets.
Cleveland Cavaliers, 7-2
With LeBron back in the fold, the Cavaliers are now the favorites to take home the Larry O'Brien trophy next season. So are we discounting the Spurs' run just a month ago? Or are we overstating the impact James will have in Cleveland?
Maybe Vegas is counting on the Cavs acquiring Kevin Love, otherwise I don't believe James' return to Cleveland should make the Cavs the favorite over San Antonio. If James returned to Miami, I'd still consider the Spurs the favorite.
San Antonio Spurs, 9-2
As I mentioned earlier, the Spurs should be the favorite to begin the 2014-15 season. The team remained in tact this summer, retaining Boris Diaw and Patty Mills.
Maintaining that depth was essential, as the team-wide play gave the Spurs the edge over Miami in the Finals. No team will be as deep as San Antonio, and no coach is better at managing that talent like Gregg Popovich.
Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, 13-2
Rose has yet to prove he's back his former MVP self yet, but already the Bulls are even with the Thunder in terms of a championship-caliber team? Oh no.
Rose does have the ability to shake up the Eastern Conference, and the addition of Gasol is an upgrade over Carlos Boozer, but I still consider the Bulls a project until Rose proves he's 100 percent.
Oklahoma City hasn't made any major roster moves. It lost Thabo Sefolosha and Caron Butler, and added Anthony Morrow. Big deal. This team will only go as far as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will take them. It fits in well with the third-best odds.
Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, 10-1
How are the Rockets this high up? Houston lost Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons, then whiffed on Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron. Now it's Dwight Howard, James Harden and a water machine. They're bound to regress.
The Clippers are still missing a certain piece. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan are a great core, but none seem able to take over. That always seems to bite them in the back when it comes to the playoffs.
Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, 20-1
Can Golden State pull off a deal for Love? Can Indiana retain Lance Stephenson, or even deal for Rajon Rondo? The offseason is far from over for these two teams.
The Warriors have a new coach, so it remains to be seen how Steve Kerr changes the team's dynamic, for better or for worse. And it remains to be seen if the team adds any more talent.
Indiana could take some major steps back if it loses Stephenson or deals Roy Hibbert. Right now, though, we can say they're definitely not capable of being the No. 1 team in the East.
Miami Heat, 25-1
The LeBron-less Era in South Beach has begun, and now Bosh is the face of the Heat along with a deteriorating Dwyane Wade and role players like Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts.
It's a long fall from great for the defending Eastern Conference champs, and while they should be in the top half of the conference standings in 2014-15, their championships odds are truly slim to none.
Notable: With 'Melo back, the Knicks have the same title shot as the Mavericks, Trailblazers, and Wizards. For the Knicks and Wiz, it's a product of being in the East. The Mavs are much better with Parsons, while the Trailblazers were on the cusp a season ago.
When it comes to Kevin Love, Cavaliers need to cave or wait
5 Potential landing spots for Carlos Boozer
New reality has NBA superstars shortchanging themselves
Lance being Lance, Stephenson bolts Indiana for Charlotte Hornets
Atlanta Hawks grant us undervalued lesson in free agency
For more sports coverage, please visit XNSports.com.