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Mike Brown pleads the Fifth on Lamar Odom trade

December 11, 2011 |  2:44 pm

At a time when the Lakers players are seething with anger over Lamar Odom getting traded to the Dallas Mavericks, Coach Mike Brown claimed ignorance.

"At least to my understanding, nothing has happened," Brown said Sunday at the Lakers' media day. "Everyone has heard stuff."

Yup, stuff like Odom getting shipped to the Mavericks for a 2012 first-round pick and a trade exception worth $8.9 million. But don't tell Brown that the trade's official. Since the front office apparently hasn't alerted Brown about the trade, it hasn't happened yet.

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"I don't want to speculate on it, but the personnel decisions are made by Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss," Brown said of the Lakers' General Manager and executive.  "I just coach the team. I'm not sure what's going on right now, but Lamar has permission to stay away from training camp."

But Odom isn't just staying away from the practice floor. He did that the first two days of training camp  because he felt offended the Lakers tried trading him in a deal that would've sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston and Odom to New Orleans. Odom stayed away from training camp Sunday because he's not on the team.

Brown's explanation raises red flags. At best, Brown's hiding behind the team not officially announcing the trade out of fear of offending his bosses and the NBA. At worst, the Lakers' front office really is keeping him out of the loop. Regardless, just when Lakers players need to hear support over losing a locker-room favorite, Brown fumbled horribly.

It's somewhat surprising, considering that Brown handled the initial controversy surrounding the NBA rejecting the Paul trade with good humor. He kept a positive attitude, granted Odom time away from the court and made changes to his practice plans without complaint.

He may have won players over with his enthusiasm and preparation, but Brown's insistence on parroting the company line will just raise suspicions among the players where his allegiences lie. That doesn't mean he should lead his players to rebel against management similar to the way Phil Jackson did with his 1997-98 Chicago Bulls team.  But he needs to at least acknowledge the reality the Lakers are facing.

"Unless you know something I know, Mitch has not told me anything. He may have contacted you before me," Brown said to a reporter. "As far as I know, [Odom's] still on our roster. We've given him permission to stay away these few practices of training camp because of the last couple of days. That's what he's doing."


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— Mark Medina

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