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July 20, 2009 | 11:11 pm


Adorable Kitten 

Puts a smile on your face, no?  Everyone loves a cute, fuzzy kitten.  Which should leave you in a good frame of mind to read a few more notes on my weekend in Vegas (for Summer League, it should be noted) concerning Lamar Odom and more. 

  • Nobody I spoke with, from coaches to agents to other members of the media, expects Odom to leave the Lakers, though one Western Conference GM said with a laugh that a lot of his brethren wish he would.  (If LO is getting unsolicited mail on the virtues of life in south Florida, those guys are a likely source.)  All part of the (not terribly surprising) consensus that losing Odom would have a major impact on LA's ability to repeat.  Clearly Odom isn't LA's best player, but almost to a man he was described as a key component to what makes the Lakers such a unique challenge for the opposition on both ends of the floor. It's a skill set the Lakers can't replace.  
  • Even while wondering if Odom's agent Jeff Schwartz has perhaps overplayed his hand over the course of negotiations, one agent I spoke with understood why Camp Odom would be looking for security in a longer deal, even if it comes with a smaller yearly rate.  It is a dangerous thing to assume future earnings, he told me, especially for a player entering his 30s.  Economics and injury are fickle and unpredictable.  I'm sure there are other agents who would take the opposing view, but it was an interesting conversation. 
  • I still expect a pleasing conclusion to the L.O.C.O.  Odom doesn't have a substantially better offer to which he can turn, and while Dr. Buss is a tough, shrewd businessman, he's also reasonable enough to see that refusing to re-open negotiations on similar terms amounts to cutting off his nose to spite his face.  Yeah, he proves a point, but it costs the team dearly. 
  • If the NBA is evolving into a point guard's league, Summer League is a Shangri-la for floor generals.  Under normal circumstances, it's tough to keep guys out of the lane.  In SL, where there's a large range of on-floor talent and for all practical purposes guys introduce themselves to each other then take the floor, it's nearly impossible. I haven't seen so many young people playing in paint since I stopped teaching Kindergarten. 
  • Blake Griffin is a sick, sick athlete, and one of the rare dudes so big and squared off around the shoulders he actually looks shorter than he is. 
  • SL is a strange combination of compelling matchups for the hoops junkie, human drama (there are dudes out there working to find even the smallest bit of a home in the NBA), and totally unwatchable basketball.