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Warriors into minus money on 2018 NBA championship odds

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Reputation counts more than a team’s record in NBA championship futures, but the upshot is that that can create value for the teams bent on keeping another Cleveland Cavaliers-Golden State Warriors NBA Finals from happening.

As the league comes out of the all-star break, the defending champion Golden State Warriors of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry fame still have a modicum of betting value as a -180 favorite on the 2018 NBA championship odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The next team on the board, for a change, isn’t the Cavaliers but the Houston Rockets (+400), followed by Cleveland (+600), the Boston Celtics (+1200), Oklahoma City Thunder (+2000) and Toronto Raptors (+2200).

Houston, which is neck and neck with Golden State for the best record in the league, looks like a credible threat. With guards James Harden and Chris Paul, the Rockets are second only to the Warriors in points per game and also lead in three-pointers made and three-point percentage. There’s also the argument that if the Warriors are to be taken down, it’s probably more likely to happen in the third round, not the fourth once they really get locked into a rhythm.

The Cavaliers’ +600 price is about the best they’ll offer, since the jury is out on how all the new complementary pieces – George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. – will fit around LeBron James. Playoff seeding for Cleveland isn’t as all-important as it is for most NBA teams, due to James’ big-game moxie and ability to help his teams win on the road in the postseason.

It’s probably wise to fade both the Celtics and Kyrie Irving and the Thunder and Russell Westbrook, since neither team seems built for the playoffs. The Raptors offer a much deeper lineup as well as much more betting value, since the first point of reference is how they have expired quickly against the Cavaliers in the playoffs two years in a row. But Toronto is much more efficient this season and that could make a difference in May and June.

Similarly, the Minnesota Timberwolves (+3300), with center Karl-Anthony Towns, forward Andrew Wiggins and two-way forward Jimmy Butler, are an intriguing Western Conference dark horse. The franchise’s 13-season playoff drought means the Timberwolves are off of general-interest bettors’ radar, but they are a talented team and, well, history doesn’t play the games.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Derek Fisher hired to coach WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks

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LOS ANGELES — Former NBA player and coach Derek Fisher has been hired to coach the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

The Sparks announced the move Wednesday, five says after longtime WNBA coach Brian Agler resigned.

Fisher helped the Los Angeles Lakers win five NBA titles during his 18-season playing career and served as president of the players’ union. He coached the New York Knicks from 2014-2016.

“I’m excited to be the new head coach of the LA Sparks,” Fisher said in a team statement. “There is no finer organization in the WNBA and I can’t wait to work with our ownership group, front office, talented players and staff to cement a culture of sustained excellence, which is what LA basketball fans demand – and deserve.”

The 44-year-old Fisher is the 12th coach in Sparks history.

“Derek is a great basketball mind who brings a ton of high-level experience to our team,” two-time MLP Candace Parker said. “I look forward to working with someone with championship pedigree and who has a track record of strong leadership. Derek has been a strong supporter of women’s basketball for quite some time, so it’s nice to officially welcome him.”

WNBA President Lisa Borders stepping down

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NEW YORK – WNBA President Lisa Borders is stepping down.

The league announced Tuesday she will become the first president and CEO of Time’s Up – an organization dedicated to safe, fair and dignified work for women. Borders says it was fully her decision to leave.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum will oversee the WNBA on an interim basis while a search for a successor begins,

Borders joined the league in 2016. She helped the WNBA grow in areas such as live streaming of games on Twitter and the availability of one-day daily fantasy.

Borders is the third executive to leave the league in the last six months. The league is coming off a season in which it had its highest TV ratings in four years. It begins its 23rd season next year.