Lakers Fans Can Rest Easy--Lamar Returning for Another Title Run

Stephen RamirezContributor IJuly 31, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for a shot between Rashard Lewis #9 and Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic in the second quarter of Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  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)

Well, I guess Dr. Buss read my letter, huh?  Probably not, but a man can always hope!

ESPN's J.A. Adande and Marc Stein are reporting the Lakers sixth man has agreed to a four-year deal worth $33 million.  This is great news for the Lakers, as well as Odom. 

For the Lakers it represents a bit of stability.  In bringing back Odom, the Lakers return the same roster as their title run, minus Trevor Ariza.  Obviously with the addition of Ron Artest, the Lakers have gone from one of the league's worst defensive teams, to one of the top five. 

The presence of Odom still leaves flexibility if Andrew Bynum struggles with foul trouble, and he also allows Pau Gasol to get some well needed rest.  So now that we know what the roster looks like, let's take a look at next year, shall we?

Kobe is going to continue to be Kobe.  Having Artest on the roster gives Kobe some rest on the defensive end, assuming of course he can still be a premier defender.  With Artest not having to focus on offense as much, he likely will excel as a defensive stopper.  This allows Kobe to focus on a more efficient offensive game. 

We know what Pau Gasol is going to give: 18 and 10 a night.  Andrew continues to develop into a good/great/premier center in this league, and with Odom off the bench, the Lakers are potentially the deepest team in the league—again. 

The bench mob is back, though it may be a little different rotation next year.  The three-headed point guard monster returns, but if Sasha Vujacic continues to struggle as he did last year, look for Adam Morrison to get his opportunity to come off the bench in his place.  Morrison had a good summer league, averaging 20 points a game, and he looks healthy for the first time in two years.  If Vujacic and Morrison can both find their stroke, look out. 

So my take on next year?  I fully expect the Lakers to make a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.  San Antonio will be very tough if the big three are healthy, and Orlando, Cleveland, and Boston will all be vying to represent the Eastern Conference. 

Will Shaq vs. Kobe happen in the finals?  We'll have to wait and see.  But this much I do know—the Lakers and Lamar Odom both did the right thing in working out a deal. 


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