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What Betting Markets Think LeBron James Will Do

The big question right now is whether LeBron James will stay with the Miami Heat or return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite the fact that his departure from the latter in 2010 seemed to have burned a few bridges, some fans appear to have forgiven James and are hoping for his return.

How likely is James to return to Ohio? That’s a difficult question, but we can try to get a rough sense from betting markets. The Cavs and the Heat aren’t the only contenders. Here’s an average of the latest betting lines on where James will play next season, converted into probabilities:

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Oddsmakers seem to think James is about a 50-50 bet to stay with the Heat. Cleveland has some hope, and the remaining teams not much. But if history is any indicator, both Miami and Cleveland might have reason to worry.

James had to make a similar decision in 2010, and betting markets didn’t get that one right.

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Bettors thought James would stay put in 2010 as well. But the difference in spread is notable. Based on these numbers, bettors are 11 percent more confident in his loyalty than they were in 2010. The second most likely options in both scenarios make up for this difference, with the Chicago Bulls at a 24 percent chance in 2010 and the Cavs at a 16 percent chance currently.

Just like these betting sites, we’ve had mixed success in predicting James’s moves. Until his announcement, it’s worth considering that maybe we don’t know the MVP quite as well as we think we do.

Hayley Munguia is a former social media editor and a data reporter for FiveThirtyEight.

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