Lakers Are Moving Forward Even With Forward Lamar Odom Likely Moving On

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IJuly 20, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers moves the ball against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won 99-86.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

All the pundits and fans are wringing out their crying towels. Oh, what a tragedy if the Lakers lose Lamar Odom. What a terrible deal it amounts to! Odom and Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest.

"It’s just not worth it," they cry. You lose two and get only one in return. But that one player that you get is worth the other two. Why? Because he WANTS to be a Laker. And he doesn’t care about the money.

The other two just wanted their egos stroked. Show me how important I am to this team by putting out some extra loot.

Well, I’m glad Jerry Buss showed Ariza and Odom how important they were. He let Ariza go without a second thought and brought in Artest. He also pulled the offer to Odom, who showed his appreciation by actually considering offers from other teams worth far less money.

Buss proved once again that no one is going to hold him hostage even if he has to break up the team. He did it back in 2004 and he will do it again if he has to. And good for him.

So, the pundits cry out all the more. If the Lakers lose Odom now, they get absolutely nothing for him. They could have traded him last year and gotten something.

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Well, they didn’t trade him, and the Lakers got something—their 15th NBA Championship. Look at it this way, Laker fans—Jerry Buss and the Lakers rented Lamar Odom for one year for $14 million in order to win the title.

But all that Ariza bought himself with an extended contract was five long years with a non-contender instead of three years with a team that competes for the title every year.

And what do you think Odom will be buying himself in Miami? Even if the Heat can add Carlos Boozer, so what? Dwayne Wade, Carlos Boozer, and Lamar Odom will still be only the fourth or fifth best team in the East.

The Heat may make it through the first round of the playoffs, but that’s it. They are no match for Orlando, Boston, or Cleveland.

As for the Lakers, they will still be the top dogs in the West even without Odom. Andrew Bynum will come back stronger. Ron Artest is a competitor and does some of the things that both Ariza and Odom did. And there’s still Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant.

Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic had off years. If either one of them regains their competitive form, the Lakers will be stronger. Adam Morrison has looked good in the Summer League and could give the Lakers bench an added lift.

Also, trust Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak to come up with a free agent like a Chris Wilcox who can give Artest and Gasol some added relief.

I don’t think Buss will put the same offer back on the table. Odom, who has been so inconsistent over the past four years even though he was making the big bucks, will have to take less money or walk.

But don’t worry, Laker fans. Unlike what you are being told in the media, the only loser hear is Lamar Odom, not the Lakers. They will still be playing come next June.