Top NBA Free Agents to Watch This Offseason

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns reacts. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns reacts. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

 

The NBA looks ahead to a short offseason as it attempts to get back on track after the coronavirus disrupted the end of the 2019-20 season and the start of the 2020-21 season. The NBA Finals concluded a fortnight ago with the Milwaukee Bucks clinching the title at the expense of the Phoenix Suns, but free agency is already upon us. Starting from 6:00 p.m. ET on Monday, August 2, teams are open to negotiate with prospective players and agree in principle. It’s the time when deals are leaked, giving NBA fans an idea of what to expect in the coming season and how teams stack up against early NBA futures.

At the end of the week, at 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday, August 6, the signing period of free agency commences. This is when pen comes to paper, cementing officially key moves on the NBA landscape and by that same token the odds trading across sports betting platforms.

The 2021 free agency class is brimming with star power, as players like Kawhi Leonard (player option), Chris Paul (player option) and Kyrie Lowry (unrestricted), to name a few, are faced with big decisions. In this column, we look at some of the moves that are reportedly in play.

Chris Paul, who’s coming off a runner-up finish in the NBA Finals after the Phoenix Suns lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, was one of the most sought-after point guards headed into free agency. However, it’s been reported in the last few days that he’s agreed to terms with the Phoenix Suns.

According to ESPN’s NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Paul reportedly declined his player option with the Suns, worth $44.2 million, in order to broker a better deal through free agency. The Suns and Paul have reportedly settled on a four-year deal worth up to $120 million.

Paul was instrumental in Phoenix’s impressive postseason campaign, which kicked off with an upset over the defending champions LA Lakers. From teammates to coaching staff, Paul has been praised no end as a big character, a motivator and a leader in the locker room. So, it’s no surprise that the Suns were keen to keep Paul on side. As per DraftKings Sportsbook, the Suns are priced at +1600 to win the NBA Championship next year, a price tag that puts them inside the Top 5 best bets.

Another big name that was at the centre of much speculation in the lead up to free agency was Miami Heat point guard Jimmy Butler. However, just like CP3, Butler is staying put according to a tweet from Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Miami Heat have agreed to terms with Butler – a four-year deal worth $184-million. Thus, removing the All-Star from the free agency catwalk and underlining Miami’s odds for the upcoming season.

“Breaking: Five-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler is expected to agree to a maximum contract extension with the Miami Heat when the league year opens on Aug. 6, sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski,” wrote Charania in his tweet.

The Miami Heat finished runners-up to the LA Lakers at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. Although they failed to replicate their magical run this season, they were nevertheless amongst the playoff contenders. Miami Heat go into the 2021 NBA season as legitimate contenders that are priced inside the Top 10. As per DraftKings, the Heat are tipped at +2800 to win the NBA Championship next season.

Underscoring the Heat’s odds is the addition of Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors. Lowry, who’s been a stalwart in Toronto over the last nine years and played a pivotal role in the Canadian team’s championship run in 2019, was expected to leave T-Dot this summer when his contract expired. His deal with Miami is reported to be a 3-year deal worth $90 million.

Lowry’s recent tweet would seem to confirm this move. “Miami Heat X Kyle Lowry, Let’s Go!,” it said.

Norman Powell, who split last season between the Toronto Raptors and the Portland Trail Blazers looks to be on the verge of signing a deal with the Trail Blazers that’s worth $90 million over five years. Powell joined the Trail Blazers in a trade at last year’s deadline, but declined a $11.6 million player option with the Trail Blazers to become a free agent.

Arguably, one of the most impressive free agency splurges is set to involve Trae Young. The Atlanta Hawks have purportedly committed to the rising star for the foreseeable, offering the young gun a max extension on his rookie deal worth up to $207 million.

Young played a pivotal role in Atlanta’s season and was the driving force behind Hawks’ run to the Eastern Conference finals. Young’s outstanding play helped the Hawks upset the Philadelphia 76ers and give the Milwaukee Bucks at run for their money in the Eastern Conference finals. The Hawks lost the series 4-2. As per DraftKings, the Atlanta Hawks are priced at +3500 in NBA futures.

Indianapolis Colts Odds Drop On Heels of Carson Wentz Foot Injury

Carson Wentz #2 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass. Photo by Justin Casterline / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Carson Wentz #2 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass. Photo by Justin Casterline / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Did the Indianapolis Colts mortgage their 2021-22 campaign by going all-in on Carson Wentz? Certainly, it seems to be the case now with news of Wentz needing to take an indefinite leave of absence to have foot surgery – an unexpected development but one that’s intensified dramatically by the Colts’ lack of a viable contingency plan.

NFL training camp only started a week ago but things have already gone south for the AFC South hopefuls. Wentz injured his left foot at the end of Thursday’s practice and soon after it was revealed that he would need surgery to mend a broken bone. Wentz has already had surgery and early indications suggest he’s likely to be out anywhere between 5-12 weeks.

A 5-12 week absence is rather wide. And this indeterminate timetable is already having an impact on the Colts value in NFL betting markets. To say that this is terrible news for Frank Reich and the Colts is the understatement to end all understatements.

On the heels of the week’s unfortunate turn of events, sportsbooks across the board adjusted NFL futures with the Indianapolis Colts getting demoted. In Super Bowl 56 futures with DraftKings, the Colts have seen their odds drift as far as +4000, putting them on a level with the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers – all teams that are deemed to be outside bets. Outside the Top 10 and on the periphery of legitimate contention, which some might refer to as the group of so-called pretenders in NFL betting markets.

Wentz’ reunion with Frank Reich, which came about in the offseason after the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback announced he wanted out of the City of Brotherly Love, was one of the guiding offseason storylines. It was a hyped up reunion that yielded high expectations, largely because of the pair’s successful partnership in 2017. When Wentz enjoyed the best season of his NFL career; that is, until he suffered a season-ending injury in the latter stages of Philadelphia’s campaign that year and then was forced to sit on the side lines while Nick Foles took over his starting job and led the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl title.

With Wentz out indefinitely, the Colts are left without experience and depth in the quarterback position. They have Jason Eason, Sam Ehlinger, Jason Morton and the recently signed Brett Hundley to lean on – none of which practically leaps off the page as a backup that can live up to expectations. Hence, the devaluation of the Colts odds.

As things currently stand, Jason Eason appears to be the heir apparent, He’s been taking first-team reps in the absence of Wentz. Eason is a fourth round pick in 2020 but he’s an untried and untested quarterback and it remains to be seen what he’s made of.

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Padres vs. Athletics: The Floundering Fathers

Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres dodges a pitch. Denis Poroy/Getty Images/AFP

Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres dodges a pitch. Denis Poroy/Getty Images/AFP

 

The San Diego Padres are vulnerable without Fernando Tatis – but they’re the value MLB pick Tuesday night versus the Oakland Athletics.

 

San Diego Padres vs. Oakland Athletics

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 – 9:40 p.m. EDT at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum 

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Red Sox vs. Rays MLB Preview and Best Bet

Martín Pérez #54 of the Boston Red Sox on July 18, 2021 in New York City.   Rich Schultz/Getty Images/AFP

Martín Pérez #54 of the Boston Red Sox on July 18, 2021 in New York City. Rich Schultz/Getty Images/AFP

 

A Friday night showdown awaits between the Red Sox and Rays as Boston tries to maintain its top spot in the AL East while Tampa Bay is within striking distance of overtaking them during this three-game set. Let’s analyze this divisional matchup and keep cashing our MLB picks!

Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

 

Friday, July 30, 2021 – 7:10 PM ET at Tropicana Field

 

The Red Sox split a four-game set with the Blue Jays over at Fenway but the AL East leaders can’t be happy about the way the series wrapped after getting smoked, 13-1, on Thursday night. It was a lopsided affair from start to finish as Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. launched a three-run bomb that traveled out of the park and landed somewhere on Lansdowne Street, while Blue Jays’ starter, Hyun Jin Ryu, held the Red Sox to only two hits over six innings of work.

 

“Every one of his pitches was locating well tonight. He executed greatly tonight — just a lot of weak contact,” Toronto catcher Reese McGuire said. “He did a great job with some quick innings to get the offense back into the dugout.”

 

By the time Guerrero flexed for three, the game was already getting out of hand as the Jays held a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning before the three-run moonshot. Boston starter, Eduardo Rodríguez, was lit up early and often allowing six runs on seven hits over three-plus innings of work, and Boston’s next two relievers, Phillips Valdez and Brandon Workman fared no better as both subsequently surrendered a combined seven runs.

 

The Red Sox will be embarking on a 10-game road trip that begins tonight in Tampa and will take them to Detroit before ending in Toronto. But this three-game series at Tropicana Field is the most critical of all as the Rays are breathing fire down the necks of the Sox, only a game and a half removed from first-place.

 

Pitching Matchup

 

Boston will send Martin Perez (7-6, 4.18 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 80 strikeouts) to the hill tonight and hope the 30-year-old southpaw can give them at least six productive innings against a potent Rays’ lineup that is currently fifth in runs scored this season. Perez’s last outing saw him toss six innings of three-run, six-hit, baseball in what resulted in a 5-4 victory over the Yankees at Fenway Park on July 25th. Perez enters this game with a 1-2 record and a 4.74 ERA over his four starts during the month of July and will try to improve upon those numbers tonight.

 

His counter-number will be Josh Fleming (7-5, 4.07 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 44 strikeouts) who has been used as both a starter and reliever this season by the Rays. The 25-year-old righty last saw action on July 23rd when he pitched four innings and allowed three runs on six hits in a 10-5 win over the Indians. It was a relatively solid start compared to his previous outing when the Braves blasted him for seven runs on eight hits in four-plus innings leading to a 9-0 Cleveland victory.

Wanna Make a Bet?

 

The MLB odds on this matchup show the Rays as -135 home favorites but the vast majority of the best online sportsbooks have yet to release a line at the time of this early Friday morning writing. However, it is not surprising that the Rays would be relatively decent-sized favorites in this game considering they dropped three narrow decisions before they exploded for a 14-0 trouncing of the Yankees on Thursday night.

 

The pitching matchup is pretty much a wash as both pitchers can be mercurial, to say the least, but the Tampa bats were on fire last night and I can see that carrying over to tonight. Meanwhile, Boston has to be a bit despondent over their 13-1 loss and the bullpen got worked as well so if Perez doesn’t handle his business, then it could be a long night for the Red Sox…again. Lay it and like it with the Rays on Friday night!

 

Free MLB Pick: Rays -135 at BetMGM

UFC in Vegas 33 Pick’ Em: Fight Card Preview, Predictions and Best Bet

Uriah Hall of Jamaica talks to his corner. Alex Menendez/Getty Images/AFP

Uriah Hall of Jamaica talks to his corner. Alex Menendez/Getty Images/AFP

 

UFC in Vegas 33 Pick’ Em: Fight Card Preview, Predictions & Best Bets We’re back with our UFC in Vegas Fight Night predictions. The UFC in Vegas 33: Uriah Hall vs. Sean Strickland main card UFC Odds are available. Read on for our complete betting guide and preview next weekend’s favorite matchups, including updated odds and our free expert betting predictions.

UFC in Vegas 33 Main Event Prediction

Uriah Hall vs. Sean Strickland

UFC Middleweight Bout

 Apex Centre in Las Vegas

This weekends main event of the evening will see #9 and #11 ranked middleweights battle it out to continue their winning streaks, respectively. Both Uriah Hall and Sean Strickland possess the striking offense that could well provide fans with a knockout of the night award.

Having spent the previous eight years on the UFC roster, Uriah Hall has suffered setbacks but is now riding a 4-fight win streak. Owning knockout power from all angles, it will be a delight to witness the Jamaican born kickboxer attempt to climb closer to a championship-worthy ranking.

Following a near life-ending motorcycle accident, Sean Strickland has returned to the UFC octagon and began to gain a stride in the middleweight division. Also riding a 4-fight winning streak, Strickland has defeated the competition with a composed and precise boxing output.

While Hall delivers his best work moving backwards, Strickland is more comfortable pressuring the opposition, which will leave us on the edge of our seats when the first-round bell rings.

The question is, who’s skill set will reign supreme? Hall is known as a slow starter, whereas Strickland is quite the opposite. The issue’s I find when breaking down Strickland is his inability to cover his chin, a beautiful set of boxing fundamentals is, unfortunately, exposing to counter strikes – something that Hall could quickly capitalise on.

Despite believing that Strickland will be winning this fight on output alone, it’s hard to guarantee he won’t get rocked, dropped, or knocked out with a 25-minute time limit. For this reason, I’m going to side with Uriah Hall finding the button at some stage of the fight.

UFC Vegas 33 Best Bet: Uriah Hall by KO/TKO at +333 with BetMGM [1u returns 3.33u profit]

 

UFC in Vegas 33 Main Card Prediction

Cheyanne Buys vs. Gloria de Paula

UFC Women’s Strawweight Bout

Based on her output and aggressive nature, I find it challenging to ignore Cheyanne Buys in this weekend’s women’s strawweight bout.

Gloria de Paula is the more technical striker of the two, with a less than desirable grappling skill set. She does prefer to strike, training out of Chute Box Diego Lima; this is no surprise. A background in Muay Thai assists Paula in striking at a distance, but her problems will arise when attempting to keep Buys at a range where she can comfortably land her strikes.

Cheyanne Buys was a promising prospect after an impressive Dana White Contender Series debut, but an authoritative ground game from Montserrat Ruiz cost her a debut loss.

Buys likes to box inside the pocket, an area of the stand-up battle I believe she can excel. She does tend to clinch on occasions, which I’d like to see her avoid and focus on delivering significant strikes

through her aggressive boxing style. With that said, I do anticipate Buys being the stronger grappler of the two, and after witnessing Paula having no answers for a grappling offense versus Jihn Yu Frey, this could be another path to victory for Buys.

A high output of strikes and a willingness to pressure forward in all rounds should give Cheyanne Buys enough respect to earn a nod from the judges’.

UFC Vegas 33 Best Bet: Miranda Maverick to win @ -165 with BetMGM [1650u returns 1u profit]