NBA Draft: Lamar Odom trade scenarios present many pros and cons
It took nearly a month of handwringing before Lakers forward Lamar Odom and General Manager Mitch Kupchak could sit side by side at a news conference in August 2009, announcing that Odom would remain with the team. Jerry Buss had pulled offers off the table because Odom and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, didn't respond quickly enough to his liking, while Odom kept his options open for a return to Miami. Kobe Bryant told Odom that he'd better return, while Phil Jackson told the team's front office that it had better not let Odom go.
The weighing of Odom's true worth to the team always proves to be an ongoing exercise and the episode outlined above serves as just one example.
The Lakers considered dumping Odom's salary in the 2010 offseason, as reported by The Times' Mark Heisler, as a way to reduce their payroll. The 2011 offseason, as reported by The Times' Broderick Turner, the Lakers attempted to trade him to the Minnesota Timberwolves for their No. 2 pick of the NBA Draft. But, Turner reported, the Timberwolves traded that offer down and talks soon stopped after they inquired about getting either Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum instead, two offers the Lakers adamantly refused. Additionally, Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick reported that the Lakers and 76ers are in talks over possibly trading Odom for Andre Iguodala.
It remains unclear how everything will turn out and it's conceivable more reports will trickle out involving trade scenarios. But it still sparks debate on the pros and cons of dealing Odom, regardless of which team it involves and which player the Lakers receive in return.
Pros: Let's make one thing perfectly clear -- I don't think it's a good thing for the Lakers to trade Odom. His Sixth Man of the Year award epitomized the most consistent season of his 12-year career, his selflessness in accepting a bench role and how he managed to remain focused despite his increased celebrity branding with wife, Khloe Kardashian. I think Odom has gotten past that stage where he'll underachieve. Should the Lakers wind up keeping him, I would also imagine that being in the trade conversation alone would fuel Odom even more in wanting to prove something next season.
But the reality is that the only way the Lakers are going to be able to make significant changes to their roster is to trade away some of their assets. That's a huge reason the Lakers' front office has maintained its mantra that it wants to keep the team's "core" players and only make "tweaks" to the roster. That's not going to solve the fundamental issues: getting a true point guard, having three-point shooting and adding more speed, youth and athleticism. Of all the players the Lakers have, Odom's contract (two years, $17 million) makes it more enticing for other teams and his versatility makes it possible to fill opposing teams' needs for other reasons.
Cons: Even though Odom lacks a truly specialized skill set, his versatility helps the Lakers plug various gaps when needed. Should Bynum or Gasol get injured, Odom can immediately step in and start. Should the Lakers want to go with a size-heavy lineup, they can go with Bynum, Gasol and Odom. Should they want a guard-oriented lineup, Odom's speed and athleticism allow him to keep up with the smaller guards. While Bryant and Derek Fisher sets the team-wide agenda in the locker room, Odom remains the most popular player on the team.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: There's many pros and cons for the Lakers dealing Lamar Odom. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times