NBA Rumors: Why Los Angeles Lakers Must Bring Back Lamar Odom

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NBA Rumors: Why Los Angeles Lakers Must Bring Back Lamar Odom
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The Los Angeles Lakers traded away their best bench player last year, and it certainly showed, as Mike Brown's team sorely missed Lamar Odom off the bench.

But don't rule out Odom returning to the Lakers just yet, as the former Sixth Man of the Year award winner could have an interest in returning to his former team, according to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, per Daniel Buerge of LakersNation.com:

[Odom] desperately wants to come back and wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. Mike Brown desperately wants him back. He’s going to talk to Buss and Lakers hierarchy to see what they can do about getting Lamar Odom back.

If you doubt Stephen A.'s knowledge on the subject, Buerge points out the close relationship Smith and Odom have with each other:

Smith has been close to Odom for much of his career. When Odom was initially traded to the New Orleans Hornets as a part of the nixed Chris Paul deal in December, he went on Smith’s radio program to discuss his feelings, so it’s safe to say Smith is a credible source in this scenario.

Indeed, Odom was a shell of his former self with the Dallas Mavericks this year, averaging six points and four rebounds off the bench.

After several issues on and off the court, the Mavs clearly grew tired of Odom's issues and helped end his season before the playoffs even started, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

Now, if the Mavs buy out Odom's contract, not only will that make him a free agent, but it also makes him available to be signed by the Lakers, which is something they must do.

Los Angeles' bench was depleted with the loss of Odom. The team was unable to replace what it lost with his departure, and despite Odom being disgruntled after the Lakers' failed trade with the New Orleans Hornets for Chris Paul, the Lakers should've held on to Odom.

Instead, they senselessly traded him away and shot themselves in the foot in the process.

The Lakers have plenty of problems, and bringing back Odom wouldn't solve them all, but it would be a big piece. He will help return the championship-caliber depth that the Lakers will need if they want to compete moving forward.

Not to mention Odom's versatility in playing multiple positions was a valuable asset the Lakers were missing.

The question will remain: Is Odom's head still in the game of basketball?

It's easy to say "no" considering the year he's had, but maybe a change to familiar scenery will be enough to motivate the former Laker. At age 32, it's hard to believe Odom doesn't have anything left and that he simply fell off the face of the earth in the span of a year.

Odom's problems, whatever they may be, could very well be in his head.

Signing Odom shouldn't cost much either. The overall opinion of Odom can't be too high at the moment, and that may mean a talented player of his caliber might have to take a pay cut in order to get a chance to prove he still has it.

The Lakers better hope so, considering their current salary-cap situation. If Odom can be signed for the veteran's minimum, he would be a low-risk, high-reward addition for the 2012-13 season.

However, an Odom return to the Lakers could hit a snag if he is waived, according to John Hollinger of ESPN.com:

Los Angeles has nothing to lose and everything to gain in bringing back Odom in any way, shape or form, even if it does have to wait for him.

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