Lamar Odom's poor play doesn't yet justify trade
Upstairs at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo, the front office saw firsthand Lamar Odom's pain and they heard his frustration.
They then predicted something that would prove more disastrous than anything that could play out in any reality show, including "Khloe & Lamar." They figured his play would drop, and soon enough, his market value too. So they traded Odom and a second-round pick to the Dallas Mavericks for a $8.9-million trade exception and a first-round draft pick.
And the early returns suggest they predicted correctly.
Through seven games, Odom has averaged 6.7 points on 26.4% shooting and 4.3 rebounds, admits he's out of shape and hasn't fully grasped the Mavericks' system. Meanwhile, there are a few things suggesting the Lakers aren't missing Odom as much as originally thought. Free-agent signee Josh McRoberts has nearly matched Odom's scoring average (5.7), while eclipsing him in rebounding (5.7) and field-goal percentage (53.8%). Andrew Bynum's 22.7 points on 62.2% shooting and 17 rebounds partly points to his heavier minutes (32.7) and increased role, two things that Odom's presence may have diminished. Metta World Peace feels more empowered with a bench role. And then there's of course the $8.9 million the Lakers can still use should they ever make a so-called big deal.
But the Lakers and their fans should view this the same way as investors view the stock market: Don't get bogged down in the day-to-day proceedings and focus on the big picture. If Bynum suffers a significant injury, the Lakers are doomed without anyone such as Odom to mitigate his absence. Who knows the severity of McRoberts' injury on his left big toe? World Peace's initial success as a reserve could prove as flimsy as Kobe Bryant's right wrist. And the whole notion of Odom arriving to training camp out of shape and producing inconsistent performances? Up until last year, everyone expected Odom to do that, yet things always turned out well for him in the end.
The script simply remains unfinished. Just because the initial episodes seem to be in the Lakers' favor, it still remains highly plausible a disastrous plot twist will ensue.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Mavericks forward Lamar Odom collides with Miami's Udonis Haslem during a game in Dallas on Christmas Day. Credit: Larry W. Smith / EPA