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.