During a recent interview with ESPN, Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher said the Lakers are a worse team without the recently traded Lamar Odom, while Kobe Bryant plainly said he didn't like the deal.
I agree with both points of view.
The ESPN report also mentions that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told reporters that the only reason he traded Odom was because he requested it, and the team moved so quickly because they didn't want to risk problems with Odom.
Odom was understandably upset at the fact that he was offered as trade bait for the Chris Paul deal that never happened, but maybe Kupchak should have exercised a little more caution before deciding to cut ties with Odom.
In Kupchak's defense, the opportunity to unload Odom's $8.9 million dollar salary to the Dallas Mavericks must have been enticing, and for Lakers fans it should be crystal clear that the team's primary free-agent target is Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
Odom was penciled in as a starter for the New Orleans Hornets before NBA commissioner David Stern killed the deal, and while Kupchak suggested the Lakers were still in the running for Paul, Howard seems a much more likely target since Odom is gone.
And what a shame that is, because with a little foresight and patience, Kupchak might have retained Odom while making both Gasol and Bynum available to the Magic, preserving the Lakers' hopes for a 2012 NBA Finals appearance in the process.
Don't get me wrong, I still think Howard and Bryant would be capable of contending with mostly any players the Lakers surround them with, but their odds would have improved greatly with Odom on the roster.
Odom's rebounding aptitude, combined with his talent to slide to the perimeter freeing up space in the paint, would have been a great complement to Howard's skill set, but now the Lakers will be forced to watch Odom create mismatches for the Mavericks. As well as defend him.
Kupchak mentioned that Odom took a very emotional approach to the Lakers' decision to trade him, and I'm willing to bet those feelings will overflow the first time the two teams face each other during the regular season.
The Lakers may be a better team than the Mavericks when that moment happens (if they manage to acquire Howard), but they will not be as good as they could have been if Kupchak had never traded Odom in the first place.
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