Las Vegas split on how Dwight Howard may aid Lakers’ title chances


It appears Dwight Howard isn’t the only one waffling about his future.

Las Vegas oddsmakers seem split as well. They’re coming to grips on determining how much Howard’s presence would bolster the Lakers’ championship fortunes.

The Las Vegas Hotel and Casino considers it a big deal. The Lakers keep making leaps in its books. They went from 12-1 odds to 8-1 after the Lakers acquired Steve Nash. The mere possibility that Howard might come to the Lakers prompted the hotel to change its odds to 5-1. Regardless, the Miami Heat (2-1) and Oklahoma City Thunder (3-1) are still considered the favorites.

“Once it came out that he was willing to sign an extension, then we lowered them, “ said Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports for the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. “It’s a pretty significant move. That’s just amongst the rumors. If they do end up getting him, they’ll be lower even more.”


If the Lakers indeed land their coveted prize in Howard, Kornegay believes the odds will improve to 3-1 or 5-2, lumping them with the Heat as co-favorites to win the title. That idea could soon evaporate considering quoted Howard’s agent saying the Magic center would actually want to explore free agency next season.

The weariness RJ Bell of has regarding Howard significantly helping the Lakers’ title chances has little to do with his uncertain future. It has everything to do with Andrew Bynum. Bell said most sports books have the Lakers in third place at 8-1 odds and would change the odds to 7-1 only with Howard’s arrival because there is a “marginal difference” between the two centers.

“Vegas probably does not value Howard as highly as the public does,” Bell said. “Vegas values Bynum slightly higher than the public does.”

One thing’s clear, though.

The Lakers have other pressing needs to make a championship run beyond securing Howard. Although the Lakers boast a top-heavy starting lineup in Kobe Bryant, Nash, Bynum, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace, the team’s bench ranked last in the league in points (30.5), 20th in shooting percentage (21.8%) and 28th in efficiency (27.2). The Lakers’ starting lineup also averages 32 years in age.

“That can only go so far,” Kornegay said. “It’s such a long, brutal season. On top of that, it’s a long playoff run. When you have that kind of starting lineup with a bench that is not going to help you much, it makes it a longer season.”

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