Lakers Rumors: Los Angeles Would Be Wise to Bring Lamar Odom Back

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJuly 26, 2013

February 13, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers power forward Lamar Odom (7) moves the ball down court against the Houston Rockets during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Odom is bound to return to the Lakers for the 2013-14 NBA season.

Odom has spent seven years of his career with the Lakers, but has spent the last two with the Mavericks and Clippers. Last season, Odom played in all 82 games for the Clippers and averaged 19.7 minutes per night. In his time on the floor, he averaged 4.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, and also shot 39.9 percent from the field.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles has the latest on Odom’s current situation:

The Lakers and Clippers are likely the only two teams that Odom could spend next season with. A source told Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York, “He will only play if he is with an L.A. team.” Well, that narrows the list down by quite a bit. It would be interesting if the Lakers decided to bring him back.

Odom didn’t really leave Los Angeles on the best terms a few years ago. The veteran was supposed to be in the deal that would’ve sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, but the league vetoed the trade. Odom was hurt by his inclusion in the deal and requested a trade—and was later dealt to Dallas—per Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles.

Los Angeles general manager Mitch Kupchak told McMenamin at the time that Odom wouldn’t have been dealt if he didn’t request to be traded. Years have passed, and it now seems like the power forward could make a return to the team to play alongside his old teammate, Kobe Bryant, in what would likely be a bench role.

The Lakers don’t have many options to come off the bench to replace Pau Gasol for the upcoming season. Los Angeles has a few big men on the roster aside from Gasol, but most are centers and not power forwards. Ryan Kelly has the chance to be Gasol’s primary backup, but he may need some time to transition to the NBA.

Antawn Jamison was the go-to guy for the Lakers last season when Gasol needed a few minutes to rest. He played in 76 games and averaged 21.5 minutes per night. He was the team’s sixth-highest scorer a year ago and grabbed an average of 4.8 rebounds per game. Jamison is currently an unrestricted free agent.

The franchise already has a lot of veteran players and adding the 33-year-old Odom wouldn’t make the team any younger, but it’s a move that the team should seriously be considering at this point in the summer. The team knows exactly what it’s going to get from Odom if it decides to sign him to a contract.

While the veteran has been on the decline in recent years, it’s likely that Odom would benefit from a change of scenery—meaning signing with the Lakers instead of returning to the Clippers for a second season.

Odom’s accuracy from the floor has dropped significantly since leaving the Lakers, as you can see in the chart above. The last two seasons aren’t just the worst in terms of shooting percentage in the last six years, but also in his entire career. That doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily improve if he returns to the Lakers, but it’s worth a shot.

The Lakers need to add another big man who isn’t restricted to shooting from right underneath the basket. Odom has the potential to make up for the last two seasons with a strong campaign with his former team. He needs the Lakers, and the Lakers need him.