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NBA Title Odds: Pacers slip, Cavs and Bulls among favorites

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The NBA free agency period has shaped teams and created renewed championship odds for the 2014-15 season, where Cleveland and Chicago rule, as the Pacers slip with the loss of Lance Stephenson.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The beauty of the NBA offseason is no more present than when the free agency period begins to hit late July, teams have mostly filled out their rosters, and aside from a major trade or two left, it's easier to begin speculating towards the 2014-15 season. The movers and shakers of the NBA offseason are clearly present in the NBA Championship Odds from Bovada.lv, who, without surprise, have offered up the 2014-15 NBA Championship favorites as the Cleveland Cavaliers with 3/1 odds.

Where LeBron James goes is where the favorites go, and with a young squad and a potential Kevin Love deal in the works, it's hard not to understand why James is expected to lead his team to a championship, even ahead of the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, who sit behind at 9/2 odds. It's hard not to speculate towards next season without thinking of the Eastern Conference, and more specifically the Central Division, where arguably the three best teams in the conference will be expected to contend for the Conference title.

The Bulls at 13/2 are the third best title odds favorites in the league, with the eternal return of Derrick Rose and the addition of Pau Gasol creating championship hopes in Chicago while the loss of Lance Stephenson plummets Indiana to a distant third in the East (and seventh overall) with 18/1 odds. It's no surprise the Pacers would take a hit losing Stephenson, just as it's no surprise the Bulls would see a boost from the acquisition of Gasol.

But the strength of the Central Division, where Cleveland hopes to grow quickly, Chicago hopes to stay healthy, and Indiana hopes for addition by subtraction will stand to create a unique situation in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, where the third place team in the division will automatically be locked into the 5th seed, which could create a late season flurry of position jockeying to avoid what could be seen as a difficult path not only for the three Central teams, but other players in the East, including Miami (25/1), Washington (33/1), New York (40/1), Charlotte (50/1), and Toronto (50/1).

Even with somewhat favorable 18/1 odds, it's hard to imagine the Pacers truly contending when it comes to an NBA Championship this year unless the loss of Stephenson is the exact thing the Pacers need to get themselves back to where they were before the turn of the New Year. Even still, it certainly doesn't appear that short of another big step from Paul George and a complete mental cleansing of Roy Hibbert (who's been noticeably lighter since the news on Stephenson) that the Pacers will have enough sheer talent to contend with the winner of the Western Conference in the event they do get out of a fairly even playing field in the East.

But despite heavy sighs for Indiana's moves this offseason compared to other teams, there's no reason to believe they won't have an opportunity to contend for the Eastern Conference Championship again despite everything. Who knows, maybe 18/1 will result in a joyous payoff instead of the expected result.

Below the are the current odds for all 30 NBA teams according to Bovada:

Cleveland Cavaliers 3/1
San Antonio Spurs 9/2
Chicago Bulls 13/2
Oklahoma City Thunder 13/2
Houston Rockets 12/1
Los Angeles Clippers 12/1
Indiana Pacers 18/1
Golden State Warriors 20/1
Dallas Mavericks 25/1
Miami Heat 25/1
Washington Wizards 33/1
New York Knicks 40/1
Portland Trail Blazers 40/1
Charlotte Hornets 50/1
Los Angeles Lakers 50/1
Memphis Grizzlies 50/1
Toronto Raptors 50/1
Brooklyn Nets 66/1
Atlanta Hawks 75/1
Denver Nuggets 75/1
New Orleans Pelicans 75/1
Phoenix Suns 75/1
Boston Celtics 100/1
Minnesota Timberwolves 150/1
Detroit Pistons 200/1
Orlando Magic 200/1
Sacramento Kings 250/1
Utah Jazz 250/1
Milwaukee Bucks 300/1
Philadelphia 76ers 300/1