Throughout the duration of the 2013 NBA offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers have been tied to former Sixth Man of the Year award winner Lamar Odom. With Odom having spent seven seasons with the Lakers, there's reason to believe they could reunite.
While some have questioned whether or not the Lakers will use their final guaranteed contract on Odom, taking a risk on the 33-year-old is as harmless as they come.
Odom and the Lakers have played a back-and-forth game, as conflicting reports have revealed questionable interest from both sides. The latest report, however, states that Odom is warming up to the idea of returning to L.A.
Unfortunately, the Lakers aren't sold.
Since leaving the Lakers in 2011, it's been all downhill for Odom.
Odom won the 2011 Sixth Man of the Year award, averaging 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists on 53.0 percent shooting from the field and 38.2 percent from three-point range. In the two years since, Odom has averaged no more than 6.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists on sub-40.0 percent shooting.
The question is, what do the Lakers have to lose from bringing him on?
Kobe: The Motivator
In the video provided above, the NBA perfectly illustrates the qualities that Kobe Bryant displays as a leader. During the course of the video, it's revealed that Odom and Bryant have one of the most interesting relationships in basketball.
At the core of their friendship is Bryan't uncanny ability to motivate Odom and thus bring the best out of him.
I need a person like Kobe 'cause I need him to say, you know, when there's four minutes left in the game and we're down eight, I need him to tell me: "We're gonna be all right, we're gonna win this game. I just need you to get this done."
So why not trust Kobe to help Odom again?
It's no secret that Odom was one of the most dynamic players in the NBA during his best years. Odom was proficient in every area of the game, scoring out of the post, facilitating, knocking down jump shots and defending multiple positions.
The issue over the past two seasons has been easy to define—Odom appears to have lost interest and his conditioning has become poor.
If there's one thing that we know about Kobe as a leader, it's that he will push his teammates to their limits. Whether that's in the gym for a practice or during a game, Bryant is the type of leader that Odom needs to get back into game shape and become an effective player, once again.
If nothing else, note that Odom posted the second-best rebounds per 48-minute mark of his career during the 2012-13 season. He simply couldn't get the rest of his game back.
Who better than Kobe to change that?
One Last Rodeo
From 2008 to 2010, the Lakers made three NBA Finals appearances and won consecutive titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10. At the heart of their success was a trio of superstars in Kobe, Pau Gasol and Odom.
With Bryant and Gasol both set to become unrestricted free agents in 2014, why not offer Odom a one-year deal and hope for one more year of magic?
At this point, the Lakers are significantly too talented to even be in the conversation for a top-10 pick. Assuming Bryant recovers from his torn Achilles tendon—and who in his right mind would bet against that?—L.A. still has an elite core with Kobe, Gasol and Steve Nash.
The worst-case scenario is that they struggle with injuries, miss the playoffs and have a draft choice in the teens.
The facts that no one likes to acknowledge are that, in 2012-13, the Lakers starting lineup was elite—not only by name value, but in terms of what they put on the court.
The Lakers starting lineup was second in points per game, led the NBA in rebounds and placed fourth in efficiency. Furthermore, they were sixth in both assists and defensive efficiency.
Losing Dwight Howard may hurt, but it'd be naive to say that he was the one and only reason for that success—especially if those same people won't waste a moment to blame him for any struggles.
The issue for L.A. in 2012-13 was its bench, which ranked 26th or worse in scoring, efficiency and defensive efficiency. By adding Odom, the Lakers would continue to bolster an already improved second unit.
At this point, the only thing the Lakers have to do in 2013-14 is give their best shot at winning a title. Why not bring back a familiar face?
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