Could Lamar Odom Put Past Aside, Return to Los Angeles Lakers?
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
After Dwight Howard selected the Houston Rockets as his next dancing partner, the Los Angeles Lakers are facing dire straits. They're in danger of finding themselves on the wrong half of the Western Conference standings for the first time since 2005.
Well, as noted by Billy Witz of the New York Times, the Lakers have "only $3.2 million to find a free-agent replacement" for Howard. They also lost backup center Earl Clark to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who agreed to a two-year, $9 million contract, too rich for the Lakers blood.
So general manager Mitch Kupchak is now left scrambling to find any and all competent big men who can be had for a bargain.
That's why it's not so surprising that Lamar Odom's name has come up.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles informed Twitterers of the development.
Lakers have reached out to Lamar Odom, but it been hard to determine how high interest level is on either side thus far.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 6, 2013
Lakers tweeters were atwitter about the news.
It seems the Lakers are looking at another former friend - Lamar Odom. Will he return to LAL? http://t.co/lZbabK6XRW— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) July 7, 2013
Though Odom and the Lakers endured a bitter breakup, it appears that he did not burn his bridges completely.
Odom won Sixth Man of the Year as a Laker in 2011, averaging 14.4 points on 53 percent shooting and 8.7 rebounds in 32.2 minutes per game.
Then everything went horribly wrong for Odom. As the NBA lockout altered the summer and fall, the Lakers orchestrated a deal that would have swapped Odom and Pau Gasol in a three-team exchange to receive Chris Paul in return. Yes please.
Though commissioner David Stern vetoed the deal because the New Orleans Hornets were under league control, Odom became disgruntled after being used as a trade chip. Soon after, he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
Somewhere along the journey to Texas, Dr. Evil must have stolen Odom's mojo. He played so poorly for Dallas that they assigned him to the D-League. In 50 games, he tallied just 6.6 points and 4.2 boards a night. He shot 35 percent from the field and looked utterly disinterested.
With retirement seemingly the next step, Odom landed in familiar territory with the Los Angeles Clippers. The return to LA invigorated Odom, as he adapted his game to suit his declining skills and became a contributor for Lob City.
Given their very limited spending money, should the Lakers sign Lamar Odom?
Though he failed to regain his form from 2010-11, he played more efficiently than he had in Dallas and provided a solid defensive intensity for 19.7 minutes a night. He appeared in all 82 games, and though he only averaged four points, he also attempted just 4.5 field goals per game and still grabbed 5.9 boards per game in limited service.
Now that he's a free agent, his moderate production will keep his price tag relatively low, which is exactly the kind of free agent the Lakers are looking for. Based on how Odom reacted the last time he left LA, he figures to keep playing his home games at Staples Center either way.
That leaves either re-signing with the Clippers or returning to the site of past glories with the Lake Show.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, if he wants a shot at another title next year, he's much better off remaining in a Clips jersey.
Still, Kobe Bryant can be mighty convincing when he wants to be. It would make for a nice story if the Lakers got the band back together, and they could even get Derek Fisher for the veteran's minimum. But the way things are shaping up, the Lakers figure to be a lottery team next year, and time is not on the 33-year-old Odom's side.
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