The Lamar Odom negotiations: Y'all just be patient now, ya' hear?
The Lakers have worked quickly and decisively this summer to address their fairly limited to-do list, solidifying the small forward spot (re-signing Trevor Ariza became signing Ron Artest, but either way the position, as they say, has been filled), locking up Shannon Brown for at least one more year, and filling out the back end of the roster by picking up options on DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell. The only remaining piece is Lamar Odom. It's a big one, too. Judging by comments some readers have left over the last few days, the radio silence regarding LO is causing more stress than a tax audit undertaken at the dentist's office where the reciepts are missing and so is the novacaine.
As a strong advocate for Odom's value to the team, I get it. The Lakers want Odom on that wall, they need him on that wall. But nobody should equate Odom's status as third domino to a third place finish on the team's priority list.
The Lakers want him back. The speed, or lack thereof, in negotiations is just a reflection of the market.
Had the Lakers waited on Artest or Ariza, both could have gone by the time LO's contract was settled. Same with Brown. Unfortunately for Lamar, 2009 represents a short-straw year for higher end free agents. He's not the type of player a rebuilding team with cap space would want, and almost no contenders entered the month able to offer him more than mid-level money the Lakers would undoubtedly match. Because there isn't much competition for his services- this story from the very solid Jason Quick at The Oregonian is notable (from the perspective of a Lakers fan) for what name is missing rather that those mentioned, while a dispatch from Ken Berger at CBS Sports.com quotes a "coaching source" measuring Portland's interest in Odom as "lukewarm"- the Lakers can be patient. There are no indications Odom will suddenly be snatched up.
If interest starts to grow, so too will LA's efforts to get him re-signed, I would think. There have been no whispers of trouble on the horizon, bad blood, secret voodoo curses, or the like. (Though at the first sign of any, especially voodoo curses, we promise to pass along the news.) I don't expect Mitch Kupchak will screw around.
Already set to take a pay cut, Camp Odom is hoping to get the best terms the market will bear. The Lakers, with a payroll that will easily push past $90 mil once Odom is inked would just as soon hold costs down. My guess is they meet in the middle. Now that teams know where the cap and tax lines will be for next season ($57.7 and $69.92 million, respectively), there could be more movement leaguewide, which could accelerate this particular financial dance. Still, the Odom negotiations could take a while.
In the meantime, try to get outside and enjoy the summer.