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What if Lamar Odom hadn't been traded by the Lakers?

January 17, 2012 | 11:56 am

The moment Lamar Odom checked in at the scorer's table, Lakers guard Derek Fisher hugged him, General Manager Mitch Kupchak clapped for him and the crowd of 18,997 fans all but embraced him. 

Moments later, a 45-second video montage played on the Staples Center scoreboard showcasing numerous highlights and community appearances, ending with the message: "THANKS for the memories, LAMAR."

It's fair to presume many Laker fans still can't help but wonder why the Lakers traded Odom to the Dallas Mavericks. Fisher acknowledged the team's difficulty in absorbing Odom's loss but argued that "we've probably moved past the woulda-shoulda-coulda aspect of it."

But based on the comments sections, Laker fans are having a harder time letting go. Why did Kupchak have to follow through on Odom's trade request? Why couldn't Odom have emulated Pau Gasol's reaction that involved reiterating his desire to remain with the Lakers?

"Our situations are completely different," Odom said. "You can't compare the two. They were different. Especially when things didn't happen, they were completely different."

This much is certain: If the Lakers had kept Odom, it would have changed things in a number of areas. 

1. Personnel issues. The Lakers wouldn't have acquired Josh McRoberts and possibly even Troy Murphy. As much energy as they've provided, they're by no means comparable to Odom's versatile skill set. Brown would've likely shuffled lineups. But it may not have been frequent considering McRoberts sat out six games because of a toe injury and Murphy has featured an inconsistent shot and slow defensive reactions.

2. Odom may have been a starter. Mike Brown's thick three-ring notebooks include one devoted to offense, one devoted to defense and one devoted to practice sessions. Since the 2011-12 season, he's had to scrap all but a third of those total pages simply so the Lakers don't fail through information overload. But some of the ideas involved featuring Odom in a triple-tower lineup with Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

"He could've easily started at times for us and/or finish the games for us," Brown said. "He would've been a big part of what we're trying to do." listed a triple-tower lineup featuring Gasol, Odom and Bynum as the 10th-most effective lineup combination when used in the 2009-10 season.The Lakers lost Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks with Odom starting for a suspended Ron Artest, resulting in an imposing offense, an exposed perimeter defense and one tired lineup.

So this may not have necessarily been a good thing. But perhaps it would've given the Lakers the balanced offense they want to complement Kobe Bryant's scoring. 

3. Odom would have been better equipped to handle adversity. He admitted it's still been a "process" in coping with a tumultuous summer that made him consider taking a sabbatical. On a visit to New York during which he attended a funeral for a cousin who was murdered, Odom was in the passenger seat of a car that accidentally struck and killed a pedestrian. He remains emotional regarding those circumstances.

Still, he's also had to adapt to a new city, new system and new teammates. Remaining with the Lakers would've provided him the sanctuary he needed to cope with his personal ordeals. He may not have been in the best of shape right away, but it would've been easier to overcome. 

4. The Lakers would have a bigger trade chip. Who knows what will happen before the trade deadline. But should the Lakers fail to land Dwight Howard or Deron Williams, it's easy to wonder if having Odom instead of a $8.9-millon trade exception and a first-round pick would've helped make the difference.

5. More reality television ventures in L.A.! OK, so maybe some Laker fans don't miss this. But it's hard to ignore it. As soon as Odom finished warmups, he talked to Khloe Kardashian's mother, Kris Jenner, in front of the E! television cameras. Meanwhile, Khloe had plenty of cameras following her during the game.


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