The NBA Finals have been over for nearly a month and the Los Angeles Lakers still have not re-signed Lamar Odom, which begs this question: What is taking so long?
Word is that the Lakers aren't willing to meet Odom's desire for a contract that would pay him about $10 million per season. The Lakers are reportedly offering something just north of $8 million annually.
Odom said during the playoffs that he would be willing to take a pay cut from the $14 million he made last season. But he never said he wanted to make half that total in a new deal.
The Lakers are trying hard not to go too far into luxury tax jail, which is the reason Trevor Ariza refused what he considered a low-ball offer.
Being fiscally responsible has its merits, but the Lakers can't let that stand in the way of keeping Odom in the fold. Besides, the deeper they go into the playoffs the more extra revenue they'll have to pay off the luxury tax.
Surely the Lakers realize how important the versatile forward was to winning its 15th NBA championship. Without Odom, the Lakers would still be competitive but they would have a hard time repeating. Bring him back, and they become the clear favorites.
Imagine a starting lineup of Ron Artest and Paul Gasol at forward, Andrew Bynum at center, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher at guard, with Odom's all-purpose game coming off the bench. Can you name another team with that kind of fire power?
The good news for Lakers fans is that Odom wants to stay in L.A. He is one of the most popular players in the locker room and in the city. He is very comfortable with the lifestyle.
And now that the unpredictable Artest is in the fold, having Odom would be even more beneficial because he grew up with Artest in New York City and understands how to deal with Artest's quirks better than most.
Unlike Ariza, Odom has been patient. His agent hasn't started to drop hints about seeking offers elsewhere. But that can't be ruled out if the Lakers continue to let this drag on.
The Lakers say they want Odom. They say they need him to make another title run. If that's the case, it is time they put their money where their mouth is.