Signing Lamar Odom Is Low-Risk, High-Reward Venture for LA Lakers

Richard LeContributor IIIAugust 13, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  Lamar Odom #7 stands next to Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers while taking on the New Orleans Hornets in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Lamar Odom's career has derailed ever since he left the Los Angeles Lakers.

A fan favorite during his tenure with the Lakers, Odom may be a declining big man, but re-signing him for a discount could help bolster a weakened Lakers' frontcourt.

Consider the risk involved. The only negative here is that the Lakers could possibly sign a deteriorating veteran for the league minimum to ride the pine and play garbage minutes.

As Odom showed last season, he still has some gas left in the tank. 

While his 2012-13 season averages of four points, two assists and six rebounds in 19.7 minutes per game were laughably pathetic compared to his career averages (13.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists), he was still a reliable ball-handler and rebounding presence when given the minutes.

What Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni wants from his players is to run-and-gun. In order to do that, the Lakers have retooled their roster with young and athletic shooters like Nick Young and Wesley Johnson.

Odom can help in establishing this system because he is able to both rebound and simultaneously start the fast break with his ball-handling abilities.

They won't need him to score a copious amount of points on offense or be a shot-blocking machine on defense. All the Lakers would need from Odom would be his rebounding skills and his passing ability.

If he is able to hit a three-point shot here and there, that would be a bonus.

Although Odom only shot 20 percent from three-point range last season, he has proven to be an average three-point shooter in the past.

However, high-volume three-point shooting isn't what the Lakers need from him. If he can provide spacing for them by stretching the floor with his range, he will be a welcome addition to the rotation.

Despite the degradation that is apparent in his game, he is still capable of doing all those things while playing several positions.

With the ability to play all three frontcourt positions, depending on the lineup, Odom's versatility means that he could be used to plug holes on the court due to Lakers' foul trouble and injuries throughout the season.

He won't bring the dynamic game he used to have during his initial tenure with the Lakers. However, if he is able to play the same amount of minutes he did last season while providing the versatility that fans are used to seeing, he could become an invaluable part of the bench. 

The best-case scenario for Odom would see a career resurgence from a player who could potentially win the starting small forward spot.

At the moment, the prospective starting lineup could see the Lakers play small-ball with Nick Young or Jodie Meeks at the two and Kobe Bryant at the three. Another possibility is having Wesley Johnson at the starting three. 

It's unlikely that Odom can outperform those young guns, given the lack of production he has shown in Dallas and with the L.A. Clippers. However, it isn't impossible.

An optimist could say that a re-motivated Odom has the talent to crack the starting lineup. A realist should expect modest production from a player who still has the ability to help run D'Antoni's system.

A cynic, meanwhile, should still see this as a low-risk, high-reward option from a player who has a lot to prove.