The Lakers' decision to pull their contract offer to Lamar Odom off the table has increased the possibility of the versatile power forward not playing for the purple and gold again.
The Lakers reportedly put two offers on the table. One was for three years and $30 million, the other for four years and $36 million. The first offer falls in line with Odom's desire for a deal that pays him $10 million per season.
I don't know why either offer would be rejected, but Odom apparently wants a five-year contract for the same money.
That might be asking a lot, but do the Lakers have a choice? They need him to defend their NBA championship. And unless they can pry Carlos Boozer away from Utah, there aren't any better options. So maybe the Lakers should blink in this staring match.
Which brings us back to Bryant. According to reports, he has reached out to Odom to see how the negotiations are going. Knowing that talks have broken off, Bryant's next call needs to be to Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
The two have a close relationship, so Bryant should take advantage of that and try to encourage his boss to get Odom back by any means necessary.
Of course, that's easy for Bryant to say since he is not the one who has to pay the large luxury tax for going over the salary cap. But Bryant has a big card to play.
Word is the Lakers are prepared to give Bryant a three-year extension, which would lock him up through the 2013-14 season. But what if Bryant decided not to sign and instead play out the last two years of his current contract? That certainly would get the Lakers' attention.
When asked during the playoffs if the Lakers would re-sign Odom, Bryant replied with a stern, "They better.''
The Lakers don't want their franchise player unhappy again (remember he asked to be traded after the 2007 postseason). Bryant knows he has the players around him to win one or two more championships. He also knows that task will be a whole lot harder without Odom.
The Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, and Portland Trail Blazers are among Odom's growing list of suitors. Reportedly, the Heat and Mavericks have made offers. They can't pay Odom $10 million per season, but it should be noted there is no state tax in Florida or Texas, so a five-year, $34 million contract would be worth almost as much as the Lakers can pay.
Time is running out on the Lakers to work this out. That's why it's time for Bryant to speak up. He needs to tell the Lakers, "Hey, we've got a good thing going, so don't blow it.''