Kevin Durant is joining the Golden State Warriors. The former Oklahoma City Thunder star will team-up with two-time MVP Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. This will be the first time in NBA history that one team has four All-NBA players from the previous season on one squad – per ESPN Stats & Info.
The Warriors won the biggest prize in free agency. Sportsbooks responded quickly by adjusting the Dubs championship odds from 2/1 to 2/3 (bet $150 to win $100). On paper, Golden State is going to win the 2016-17 title. However, just because a team wins free agency, doesn’t mean it will win the championship.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane and revisit the past winners of free agency.
2015 San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge left Portland to join Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. The addition of the All-Star forward increased the Spurs title odds from 11/1 to 4/1.
San Antonio set a franchise record for wins and became just the 12th team in NBA history to win 67 games in the regular season. It was all for not as the Spurs were bounced from the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semifinals.
2014 Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James returned to Cleveland in the summer of 2014. The four-time league MVP instantly made the Cavs favorites to win the title. Before LeBron made is his decision, Cleveland was 33/1 to win the title after missing the playoffs and finishing the season 33-49. Once the King brought his talents back to northeast Ohio the Cavs became 4/1 favorites.
Cleveland earned the second seed in the East and cruised to the Finals sweeping the Celtics and the top seeded Hawks. The Cavs would fall 4-2 in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors.
2013 Brooklyn Nets
The Nets went all-in during the 2013 free agency. Brooklyn acquired Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry for role players and a slew of first round draft picks. This traded didn’t work out but at the time Vegas was optimistic about the Nets future. Brooklyn’s title odds dropped from 50/1 to 14/1 (5th best in the league). The Nets had the highest payroll in the league but couldn’t get out of the second round in the playoffs.
2012 Los Angeles Lakers
Looking for the franchise’s 17th NBA championship, the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. LA’s title odds improved from 12/1 to +220 co-favorites with the Miami Heat. The Lakers struggled to qualify for the playoffs dealing with numerous injuries and poor play. LA exited the postseason in the first round for the first time since 2007.
2011 Los Angeles Clippers
This was one of the weirdest trades in league history. The Clippers acquired Chris Paul from the then league-owned New Orleans Hornets five months after a lockout. The deal required approval from former NBA commissioner David Stern who one week before had vetoed a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers. Despite the controversial decision, Paul joined the Clippers and the team’s championship odds improved from 50/1 to 20/1.
The team’s record improved from 32-50 in 2010 to 40-26, good for the 5th seed in the West. The Clippers eventually got swept in the conference semifinals by the Spurs.
2010 Miami Heat
“The Decision” was a marquee moment in NBA history. LeBron became a villain when he announced his intentions to take his talents to South Beach. By joining Wade and Bosh in Miami the Heat became huge favorites to win the title. Miami’s odds went from 25/1 to -125. The Big Three did win championships but not that first year. Miami lost to Dallas 4-2 in the NBA Finals.
LeBron going to Miami made a lot of people mad, including Kevin Durant.
Now Durant is following in LeBron’s footsteps. The Warriors aren’t the first Super Team and they won’t be the last. History tells us that winning free agency doesn’t equate to titles (at least in the first season).