Apparently for Vegas odds-makers, all the Los Angeles Clippers needed to really cement them as title contenders was a solid head coach.
PreGame.com had the Clippers opened at 15-1 odds (or about a 6.6 percent chance) to win the 2014 NBA Championship. However, after the trade for Rivers was approved by the league, those odds jumped to 10-1 odds (a 10 percent shot).
The website's founder, RJ Bell, affirmed with ESPN that Rivers was the reason for the significant bump in odds.
There are only a handful of coaches in the NBA that would affect the odds to that degree, with Doc Rivers being one of them. Going from 15-to-1 to 10-to-1 is a pretty big move for a coach.
That's a bit of an understatement, isn't it.
Los Angeles traded a 2015 first-round pick to the Boston Celtics in order to get them to let him out of his deal in Boston and free him up to sign the same deal with the Clippers.
Bell also told ESPN that landing either Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett, both of whom were targeted by the Clippers to some extent during their attempts to land Rivers, would have been even better for their chances next season.
If they were able to add Garnett or Pierce without giving up much, it would be significant. I think Pierce is worth more than people think. He’s probably underrated.
Before the move, Los Angeles was behind the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers in their chances to win the 2014 title.
However, the move has jumped them ahead of most of the remaining field, leaving them behind just the Heat and Thunder.
That being said, is that move too drastic for the Clippers after adding just a coach, or is it about right?
Obviously something that has to be factored in to their prospects is the increased likelihood that Chris Paul would be returning.
One of the biggest concerns before landing Rivers was the potential that Paul could leave, something that seems to be but a scant chance following the trade.
However, the Clippers are now ahead of the defending Western Conference Champions, a team that was 28 seconds away from winning the NBA Championship, just because they upgraded from Vinny Del Negro to Rivers.
It's definitely an improvement, there's no doubt about that. However, how much can a coach really improve a team.
That's something we're going to figure out next season based on what the Clippers can prove in the playoffs.
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