Lakers' Lamar Odom enters season with uncertainty
In years past, the only thing fans could rely on with Lamar Odom was that he was unreliable.
He arrived at training camp out of shape. He continuously mixed in great performances with sub-par efforts. He left fans frustrated that he appeared to be content with wasting away his potential.
Coming off his most consistent season as the NBA's sixth man of the year, however, Odom doesn't enter the 2011-12 campaign with the same reputation. But there remains some understandable concerns.PHOTOS: Lamar Odom through the years
Odom dealt with personal tragedy this summer, including a cousin's death and being driven in a vehicle that struck and injured a teenage pedestrian, who later died. Odom has maintained a positive outlook throughout his life despite losing both his grandmother and mother at a young age. Can Odom still maintain that attitude after a tough summer?
Odom mostly managed to balance basketball with his reality television ventures with his wife, Khloe Kardashian, and had more time this off-season in promoting that brand. Will he still maintain that focus?
I'm convinced Odom will successfully fight through these obstacles, but these aren't the only ones he's facing. With two years remaining on his $17-million contract, his future with the Lakers remains uncertain. As reported by The Times' Broderick Turner, Minnesota rejected the Lakers' offer of Odom for the Timberwolves' No. 2 draft pick. Considering the Lakers remain locked in with mostly long-term and expensive contracts, it's likely Odom's skill set and contract will cause the Lakers to field other offers.
No doubt, the Lakers should continually benefit from Odom's presence. The team will relish his ability to take over Andrew Bynum's starting spot during his five-game suspension for clotheslining J.J. Barea in the Lakers' Game 4 Western Conference semifinals loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Odom will prove again to be a critical bench piece, particularly with the likelihood the Lakers make tweaks to that unit. And he will forever remain a locker room favorite for however long he remains a Laker.
Unfortunately for Odom, his future may have little to do with how he performs and how successfully he overcomes his personal obstacles, and more to do with whether the Lakers' front office can secure the right deal.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom talks with teammate Pau Gasol. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times