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Lamar Odom: What Does Future Hold for Odom, On the Court and Off?

Tom KinslowFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2011

Lamar Odom: What Does Future Hold for Odom, On the Court and Off?

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02:  Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket as he is guarded by Shawn Marion #0 of the Dallas Mavericks from behind in the second quarter in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Lamar Odom and the Los Angeles Lakers were blasted out of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks yesterday, and now it's time to look to the future.

    This is a time of change in Los Angeles after the Lakers failed to get back to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season. You have to wonder what's going to happen to the team as it's currently constructed, and what will become of Odom, who has been a major piece of the team's success over the past couple of seasons.

    We'll ask and answer all of these questions inside, and as always, if you have anything to say, make sure you leave it in the comments.

Can the Lakers Recover from Playoff Embarrassment?

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 08:  Guard Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers wipes his face during play against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2011 at American Airlines Center in Dall
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    None of us expected the Lakers to go down like that.

    This was a veteran team led by a Hall of Fame coach and a squad that had reached the past three NBA Finals. You don't get swept with a résumé like that.

    Yet here we are, and it's a crossroads for the Lakers. Either this is a learning experience, or it's the start of a fall from grace and a rebuilding process that is going to be more painful than Laker fans realize.

    Something has to change either on the depth chart or in the mentality of this team, because if it doesn't, this group isn't going to be holding up trophies any time soon.

    Right now is the time for Kobe Bryant to step up and be a leader and refocus this team heading into next year.

Are Big Changes on the Horizon?

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 08:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers is ejected from play against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2011 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    At some point, every championship team splits up.

    It's an inevitability of the NBA. You build a team up to win championships and make deep playoff runs, and then you have to switch things up to keep the team competitive. In the wake of an embarrassing Game 4 loss, it seems like change is coming sooner than people think, and Andrew Bynum is at the top of the list.

    He's Los Angeles' biggest asset and someone the Lakers might have been able to swing in a deal for Carmelo Anthony. Now the rumors focus around Dwight Howard, and honestly, after what we've seen from Bynum, why would the Magic make that deal?

    Furthermore, why would the Lakers trade Bynum when his stock is through the floor? The odds are that change is going to be hard to come by, especially with all of the high salaries on the books for the Lakers.

    Odom would be an enticing trade chip, especially since he's an expiring contract after next year (there is a team option for 2012-13), but giving up his skill set might be too steep of a price for Los Angeles.

Who Will Be Odom's Next Coach?

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 26:  (2nd R) Head coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as he sits between assistant coaches (L) Jim Cleamons, (2nd L) Brian Shaw and (R) Frank Hamblen in the second quarter while taking on the New Orleans Hornets in
    Harry How/Getty Images

    With Phil Jackson out of the picture in Los Angeles, it's a time of transition on the bench for the Lakers.

    The obvious top candidate for the job is Brian Shaw, a guy who is already on the bench in Los Angeles and someone who has been looked at as the successor for some time now. However, it's not that cut and dried because, according to ESPN.com's J.A. Adande, the search for a new head man is wide open.

    In the end, though, with a veteran group, it makes sense to try to keep some semblance of normalcy in place, especially since the window is closing. I think if you try to bring someone new in to try to juggle all of those personalities, it's going to blow up in your face, and that's something you can't afford.

    If you're going to bring in an outside name, you better be ready to make drastic changes, something the Lakers don't have time for with Kobe Bryant's career heading into its latter stages.

Is This His Last Year in Los Angeles?

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for a shot against Brendan Haywood #33 of the Dallas Mavericks in the second half in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    As I said earlier, Lamar Odom is essentially an expiring contract after this season.

    Odom has one guaranteed year left on his deal; after that, there is a team option for 2012-13, and it's at the hefty price tag of $8.2 million. That's not something the Lakers will want to pay, especially with other major contracts on board.

    We're talking about players like Ron Artest, who is locked up through 2013-14, along with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and that's a lot of money in three players. You have to cut costs somewhere, and with Odom's deal giving the Lakers an out, it's too obvious of a target to ignore.

    In all likelihood, this is Odom's last dance in Los Angeles unless he's willing to take a drastic pay cut.

Will the Reality Hijinks with His Wife Continue?

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  Khloe Kardashian (R) and Kris Jenner attend the game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
    Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

    Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Lamar Odom is married to Khloe Kardashian.

    If you don't know who she is, she's the sister of Kim Kardashian, who is famous for having a sex tape and a reality show that she got for having said tape hit the Internet and become a viral hit. Yep, that's what qualifies for fame these days.

    Either way, as the 15 minutes on the Kardashian clan run out, it was obvious that she'd use her marriage to her famous basketball-playing husband to keep it alive with their own reality show and bizarre unisex fragrance.

    Naturally, this will all continue, because for every B- to C-list star out there, the E! Network will be there to give them a meaningless reality show for people to consume.

    Hopefully we can get through it with our sanity.

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