These are not normal circumstances. Lamar Odom is not a “normal” player. In Lamar Odom, we are talking about a guy who is a legit 6’10, handles the ball like a two guard, shoots the ball like a two guard, and can guard four positions on the court.
In fact, the Lakers are not championship contenders without Lamar Odom.
It was okay for the Lakers organization to allow pride to serve as the motivating factor behind replacing Trevor Ariza with Ron Artest. Please refuse to believe the hype. The Lakers absolutely did not want to replace Ariza with Artest. I could care less about the stories of Artest approaching a naked Kobe Bryant in the team showers, following the Celtics series one year ago.
Trevor Ariza was a much better fit for the triangle offense than Artest will ever be. Artest has never displayed the ability to stand on the perimeter and consistently knock down open jump shots. Artest has never displayed the athleticism of Ariza, with his ability to drive the lane and finish over the tops of some of the league’s elite big men.
What Trevor Ariza was guilty of, was that he committed the cardinal sin, at least in the eyes of Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss; when he dared to enter into contract negotiations with other teams. This was and is viewed as an insult to Buss, who feels that every player on the planet should be willing to sacrifice his first born, for the opportunity to suit up in the purple and gold.
Unfortunately for Jerry Buss, if he has any common sense left in his old age, he should quickly come to grips with the fact that Lamar Odom is no Trevor Ariza. If you remove Odom from this team, the Lakers are left depending upon Greg Oden...err, Andrew Bynum to lead them to the promised land in next year’s finals, on two bum knees, and in need of a serious heart transplant.
Proverbs 16:18 reads, “Pride goeth before destruction; and a haughty spirit before a fall.” There have been very few occasions in his life, where Jerry Buss was forced to eat humble pie. One moment of note, was when Kobe Bryant demanded that he move Shaq out of town, following the team’s loss to the Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals.
In the case of Lamar Odom, Buss finds himself in yet another one of those peculiar situations. There is no question as to who has the upper-hand in these negotiations, and unless salvaging the pride of Buss is more important than repeating as NBA champions; we should expect the Lakers to present Odom with a five-year contract offer within the next 48 hours.