The Lakers management has put their status as the early odds-on favorite to repeat as champs at jeopardy with the somewhat myopic and infantile contract-offer withdrawal from Lamar Odom. The offer was withdrawn from the Candy Man after he refused to sign the deal that was worth nearly $27 million over a three-year span, instead unabashedly hoping for a 5 year contract over similar year-to-year worth.
Granted, the Lakers have made more earth shifting moves with the signing of Ron Artest and subsequent release of Trevor Ariza, and the all seeing eye of Mitch may not have focused directly on the inundated big man. The importance of Odom in the Lakers’ run to the championship should not be understated, contributing on both ends of the floor. He was what the Rockets could only dream that Ariza could be after signing him to a lengthy contract. He effectively picked up all of the slack that Andrew Bynum left with his questionable play and early fouls. He partnered with Pau Gasol to form a wonderful duet that combined grace with hustle on the way to effectively stuffing Dwight Howard’s presence in the post.
Most of you already are cognizant of Odom’s life story, if not see here. Aside from his notable consumption of sweets, Odom’s talent extends to the court. Unfortunately for Lamar’s teams, he has never quite managed to fill out his game and put every aspect together at one point for long stretches of any season.
The Lakers opposition to giving Lamar an extensive contract is surprising. They needn’t worry about Odom becoming complacent and lackadaisical after receiving the security of a 5-year contract with millions guaranteed regardless of his great or horrible play. They know what they are getting with big LO, an up-and-down big man who, while supremely talented, is beseeched by his own timidity to defer to the more prolific scorers on his team.
While he wasn’t as critical to the Lakers’ success as Kobe or Gasol, he contributed more to the team than Ariza, Bynum, or Fisher in the whole series. Finally, something in his soul clicked together like magnets and he was able to flaunt his ability to score from inside or out and use his abnormally lanky arms to defend opposing players ranging from Centers to Guards. Why the Lakers are playing chicken with Lamar is befuddling and innately perplexing in the same way that Lauren Conrad’s book is a NY Times bestseller.
Other teams, sensing the Lakers’ dying relationship with Odom, have begun to circle like opportunistic vultures around a carcass. The Trailblazers, Mavericks, and Heat have all thrown their rich hats into the ring, hoping to lure Lamar away from Hollywood and to their teams on the rise.
Portland, still licking their wounds from the Hedo disaster, has shown some interest in stealing their chief rival’s biggest utility man. The possible addition of Odom would perform the desired “double-whammy”, not only adding a talented player but also removing him from the enemy. Although the move makes Portland a better team, the move is more aesthetic than essential to Portland’s success. I feel as though Dallas’ interest in Odom is futile. Unless offered ungodly coin to enter the Dallas fold, Odom will not go to Texas to come off of the bench and play behind the likes of Josh Howard, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, and Eric Dampier. Although that would be a disgustingly versatile lineup for Cuban’s Mavericks, more than likely, it is nothing more than hollow whispers.
The Miami Heat’s interest is more than the faint curiosity that some other teams have shown. Odom has already lived and played in South Beach alongside a much younger and less popular Dwyane Wade. He was then traded to the Lakers in the massive Shaq trade that, while at the time didn’t seem so, benefited both teams. His talents and ability to play multiple positions alongside future MVP Dwyane Wade would vault Miami into contenders in the East. Even still, the likelihood of an Odom addition to Miami is slim to none.
Los Angeles still has to be considered the heavy favorite to be Lamar’s final destination. In this expensive staring contest, whoever blinks first will cost themselves theoretical millions. Perhaps for the first time in a while, it is Lamar’s decision to make about his future. Does he want to be the best bench player on the best team in the league, or does he want to start on a team that will fight its way into the 4th playoff spot? But what if the Heat also trade for Carlos Boozer, the power forward from Utah that is the subject of numerous trade rumors. Even still, the Lakers can offer him the most money and gives him the best opportunity to win another championship.