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Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom must channel frustration properly

December 9, 2011 |  3:45 am


Pained by the realization the Lakers would trade him in a deal for Chris Paul, Lamar Odom nearly hit all the initial stages of grief.

He felt shock and denial, telling The Times' Brad Turner that he didn't initialy believe the news that the Lakers agreed to trade him to the New Orleans Hornets as part of a deal for Paul. Odom felt pain and guilt when he told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith that he wondered whether his reality television ventures with Khloe Kardashian angered Lakers officials. And with the NBA nixing the deal, Odom displayed anger when he expressed doubt to Turner that he'd arrive at the Lakers' practice facility Friday for training camp.

"They don’t want my services, for whatever reason," Odom said with a hint of forlorn. "I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I was proud to be a Laker, so I’ll try to help them in the process as much as possible."

PHOTOS: Lamar Odom through the years

It's understandable that Odom feels this way. But it's critical he immediately channels those feelings as motivation for a sharp season, much like the way Gasol has professed via Twitter.

"It's been a crazy day but as always I'm going to be & stay positive," tweeted Gasol, who was initially traded to Houston in the three-team deal. "Thanks everyone for your appreciation and support."

Gasol demonstrated in the 2011 postseason that he couldn't properly handle the frustration over his poor play despite what he told himself after each game. Gasol's at least taking the first step, though, to ensure he doesn't let any negative thoughts regarding the Lakers' proposed trade rattle his psyche. Odom can draw back on personal adversities, such as the deaths of his grandmother, mother and his then 6 1/2 month-old son. But it remains to be seen how long Odom will feel frazzled. 

Players understand the NBA's business aspects, but Odom and Gasol are entering uncharted territory. They're currently on a team that's only welcoming them back because the league has given the organization no other choice. Should either of them actually enter the Lakers' facility Friday, Odom and Gasol will know many in that building felt fine shipping them off. And should Gasol and Odom see Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, executive Jim Buss or owner Jerry Buss, they can't say much that will restore their trust. 

But Gasol and Odom can't think like that. They might forever hold a distant relationship with the Lakers' front office, but Gasol and Odom can't allow that to cloud their view on their teammates and coaches. They might feel resentful about helping the Lakers organization win another title, but they must attempt to do so for their own legacies. And their time with the Lakers might still prove temporary before they're shipped elsewhere, but playing well will at least raise their market stock. 

It's unlikely Odom and Gasol are thinking in those terms just yet. They're still navigating the seven levels of grief. But they must immediately complete that process, or else it will consume them for the worse. 


Lamar Odom in 'disbelief' after nearly being traded to Hornets

Pau Gasol insists trade speculation doesn't affect him

NBA's veto of Chris Paul trade spurs plenty of consequences

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom talks with teammate Pau Gasol. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times