In the latest development of what is shaping up to be a saga, the LA Times reported that the Lakers had withdrawn their offer of $9 million per season for three years to Lamar Odom. Reportedly, Lakers owner Jerry Buss is unhappy at Lamar, and Odom's agent is reportedly in talks with the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat—but not with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Possibly, Odom is seeing that no team is likely to offer him the payday he wants, so he is choosing to go where there is no state tax to achieve his desired net income.
This no doubt comes as a blow to Lakers fans, especially in light of the offseason improvements other contenders have made. Unlike the Trevor Ariza stand-off, there is no immediate replacement for Lamar Odom that would effectively replicate the full spectrum of talent that the 10 year veteran brings to the table—albeit not on a nightly basis.
Lamar Odom, as I wrote in an earlier column, has the talent and potential to be right up there with the best (why he is not, is a topic for another day). Last season, Odom provided the rebounding and match-up nightmares that were instrumental in the Lakers' 15th banner.
It would be disastrous for the Lakers to lose one of the best rebounding non-centers in the league, especially one as unselfish and versatile as Odom.
If the inevitable occurs and the Lakers lose Odom, what would the contingency plan be?
First of, if Lamar leaves, it would probably be for more money than the $ 9 million offered, unless it's a silly case of spite, but considering his agent is not David Lee, I do not see that being the case. Let us look at the remaining teams who have the cap space to offer that:
The Grizzlies already traded for Zach Randolph and his toxic contract. Highly improbable.
The Motor City just inked Charlie Villanueva, so the PF position is already spoken for. Besides, Detroit has more pressing needs.
Not unless they trade Josh Smith, which is difficult because of his trade kicker. Moreover, Smith is athletic and a more consistent scorer than Odom.
This could be interesting, but the Thunder seems content to start Jeff Green at the 4. Moreover, at 29, Odom would not gel with the youth movement at OKC.
5) Portland Trailblazers
If Portland fail to land Paul Milsap, they could well turn to Lamar Odom. Odom would be great in Portland, where he can either play the 3 or the 4 when Aldridge rests. Perhaps the fear of having their 3rd or 4th best player landing in one of their rivals will sway the Lakers management.
Failing which, Odom might have to do a sign and trade with the Lakers.
Dallas is reportedly an eager suitor, especially since the Magic matched Marcin Gortat's offer and signed Brandon Bass. However, the Mavericks don't have many trading chips left beyond the Erick Dampier contract, which I doubt interests the Lakers since they would have to take on additional $20 million (including luxury tax) this year.
Dirk, Kidd, Jet, and Marion are obviously not going to be traded, unless it's for Kobe. So that leaves Josh Howard. Josh Howard alongside Ron Artest will keep the Lakers' psychiatric team working around the clock. Unless Cuban gets creative and spends another day looking at spreadsheets and the cap rules, it is hard to see what comes up.
Still, never count the man out.
Miami, the other team in the mix, has been largely silent this offseason. It would be difficult for Miami to engineer a trade without giving away too much and risking losing Dwyane Wade altogether. Unless they package Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers (in which case Riles must really be enamored with Odom), there is not much for them to work with.
Another potential sign and trade partner is Chicago. The Bulls have been rumored to be going after Carlos Boozer, but with Portland refusing to give up Jerryd Bayless in this three-way trade, rumors have stilled somewhat.
Lamar Odom will give the Bulls the PF they have long coveted. In return, they could send Kirk Hinrich to give the Lakers a starting PG in Fisher's twilight years. Kirk is a good defender, and his shooting and high basketball IQ would be a great fit in the triangle offense.
It does not address the PF hole, but the Lakers can shop Jordan Farmar or Adam Morrision for that. The problem is, whoever they get back at that price is likely to be a significant drop-off from Lamar Odom. Hopefully, the upgrade at the point will compensate for that.
Nevertheless, it is hard to envision anyone compensating for the loss of Lamar Odom. Odom coming off the bench gives the Lakers the best 4-5 trio in the league, and continual nightmares for their opponents. When Andrew Bynum went down to injury last season, Odom's 'promotion' to the starting lineup resulted in a significant drop off in the bench's production.
Hopefully, the Lakers and Odom can come to an agreement, as the rest of the contenders have gotten tougher. The Lakers need to keep this edge.