The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks remain the betting favorites at most sportsbooks despite standing pat at the NBA’s trade deadline.
While many of their chasers scrambled to add impact players before the deadline, the Bucks remain seven games ahead of the Toronto Raptors atop the Eastern Conference, while the Lakers hold a 2 1/2-game edge over the Clippers in the West.
The Clippers beat out the Lakers in a trade with the New York Knicks for Marcus Morris Sr., who may help them close the gap over the stretch run of the regular season. However, Lakers’ odds actually strengthened over their city rivals at one sportsbook.
The Lakers and Clippers were being offered at +300 co-favorites to win the NBA championship at DraftKings before the deadline. On Friday, the Lakers had moved to +275, followed by the Bucks at +300 (down from +320) and Clippers at +333. The Miami Heat were the biggest movers, with their odds sliced by a third from +3000 to +2000 following the acquisition of Andre Iguodala.
—Heat All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler will miss the team’s contest against the Sacramento Kings due to a strained right shoulder and might not play again before the All-Star break.
An MRI exam ruled out a serious injury, but Butler could miss three additional games prior to the break. The All-Star Game is Feb. 16 in Chicago.
Butler injured the shoulder during Wednesday’s 128-111 loss to the Clippers. Butler, 30, is averaging 20.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists in his first season with the Heat. Spoelstra said reserve guard Tyler Herro (foot) will also sit out for the second straight contest.
—Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker returned to the lineup versus the Atlanta Hawks after missing three games due to left knee soreness.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Walker will be on a minutes restriction of approximately 30 against Atlanta. Walker said his ailing knee is feeling much better.
Walker is averaging a team-best 22 points per game in his first season with the Celtics but has missed eight games. He sat out just six games over the previous four seasons while playing for the Charlotte Hornets. Boston also got point guard Marcus Smart (quadriceps) back against the Hawks. He missed the previous two games.
—The wreckage from the helicopter that crashed last month and killed Kobe Bryant and eight others didn’t display any evidence of engine failure, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report.
The NTSB is investigating whether heavy fog played in a role in the Jan. 26 crash, in which Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the others were killed when the helicopter slammed into a hillside in Calabasas, Calif., located about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The NTSB’s final report isn’t expected to be released for at least a year. According to the NTSB, the instrument panel was destroyed in the crash and the flight controls were broken and suffered fire damage. The pilot, Ara Zobayan, was flying the helicopter by sight and not instruments, according to the report.
—Charlotte Hornets rookie Cody Martin underwent surgery to repair a nasal fracture and also has been placed in the concussion protocol.
The Hornets said Martin will miss Saturday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, and that updates will be provided when available. Hornets coach James Borrego expects the 6-foot-5 Martin to return soon.
Martin is averaging 4.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 37 games. He was injured during Tuesday’s 125-110 loss to the Houston Rockets, when he made his first career start and had 12 points and five rebounds in 36 minutes.
—Field Level Media