Dwight Howard Buyout Doesn’t Affect Memphis Grizzlies Playoff Odds

Posted on August 30, 2019 - Last Updated on March 9, 2020

Many players don’t figure into franchises’ long-term plans in the NBA. A Dwight Howard buyout was always the plan for the Memphis Grizzlies, so the odds of them making the playoffs next season should be unchanged.

Losing Howard will erase a veteran presence from a young lineup. The plan for Memphis, however, never was to actually have Howard take the court in a Grizzlies uniform.

Why the Dwight Howard buyout was inevitable

When Memphis traded for Howard in the first week of July, the move was purely a cost-cutting measure. The Grizzlies saved over $3 million under the league’s luxury tax by sending CJ Miles to the Washington Wizards.

Memphis’ intention from the get-go was to trade or waive Howard. That intention was realized Aug. 23 when Howard’s agent negotiated a buyout of his contract.

The Grizzlies will see Howard on the court, albeit in a different uniform, this season. Howard signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers contacted the Grizzlies to request permission to speak with Howard and work him out after DeMarcus Cousins tore his ACL. That put the Lakers in need of a veteran center.

The impact of this move on Tennessee sports betting should be minimal. It largely depends on what Memphis does with the open roster spot.

Prognosticating the impact on the Grizzlies’ playoff odds

Before the news broke, the Grizzlies were considered a long shot to be one of the NBA’s Western Conference’s eight playoff teams. How Memphis fills the roster spot could impact those lines.

It’s unlikely the Grizzlies are going to splurge on a big-name free agent like Carmelo Anthony. Acquiring Howard was all about the budget, so spending big now would run contrary to that philosophy.

The Grizzlies do have forward Yuta Watanabe on a two-way contract with their G-League team, the Memphis Hustle. Simply adding him to the NBA roster is an option.

Regardless of whether it’s Watanabe or not, oddsmakers don’t expect the newest Grizzlies player to make much of an impact. The lines remain unchanged.

Breaking down the “new” Memphis playoff odds

Before it became official that Howard was moving on, FanDuel had the best odds on Memphis making the playoffs in 2019-20. That line was +1700.

Now that Howard is returning to the Lakers, nothing has changed for the Grizzlies. FanDuel still has them +1700 to make the playoffs.

Only the Cleveland Cavaliers are considered a longer shot to qualify for the postseason in 2019-20 by that book, at +2300. The Charlotte Hornets, another of Howard’s former teams, are an equally unlikely playoff team in FanDuel’s opinion.

It will be worth watching for those interested in legal sports betting in Tennessee if the lines move after Memphis decides what to do with the roster spot. So far none of the other legal books like DraftKings, PointsBet or Westgate in Las Vegas have changed a thing.

If the Grizzlies make the playoffs in the coming season, they will do so without Howard. That in and of itself wouldn’t be a surprise because that was always the plan. Memphis doing so even with Howard would have been quite an accomplishment.

Photo by Ron Cogswell used under license CC BY 2.0

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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