This off-season is filled with even more uncertainty for the Los Angeles Lakers than last year, and that says a lot considering the league was locked out last summer, fall and into the early winter. The Lakers were once again knocked out of the playoffs in the second round in a disappointing fashion.
Lakers’ management is facing the probability of making tough decisions regarding who stays, who goes and who they bring to Lakerland. With the vast majority of the bench being free agents this off-season, the high likelihood that Pau Gasol will be traded and the good chance that the Lakers will exercise their option to kept Andrew Bynum in purple and gold for another year, the rumor mill has been on high-speed since the Lakers lost Game 5 of the second round against Oklahoma City.
While the prospects of acquiring Deron Williams and Dwight Howard are the high profile stories, even if they aren’t as realistic as other possibilities, there is one acquisition that is well-known in Los Angeles and pretty popular among the fanbase. Enter former Laker and Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom.
When Odom was traded last December to the Dallas Mavericks for the trade exception, he left a gaping void on the bench that became more and more noticeable as the season progressed. For all the talk about who the Lakers will get for Gasol and who will be on the starting lineup at the start of next season, it is the Lakers bench that needs the biggest facelift, and Odom could be the right way to start.
Lamar Odom had a rough time during his stint with the Mavs. As reigning Sixth Man of the Year, his contribution off the bench was disappointing to the organization and to the Dallas fans. His demeanor and overall body language reflected a sense of being lost, as if he was not mentally present. It all came to a head when Dallas deactivated Odom last month and are expected to buy out the remaining $2.4 million left due to Odom next month in order to release him from the team.
If you are familiar with Odom’s feelings about being a Laker and being in L.A., it wasn’t shocking to see what his performance in Dallas turned out to be. Of course, Odom should have approached the trade in a professional manner and realized that it’s part of the game, but professional basketball players are human, and Odom has always worn his emotions on his sleeve.
The majority of Laker fans seem to want L.O. back in purple and gold and it appears he may be expressing his desire to return to the Lakers as well. It has already been reported that Kobe Bryant supports and wants Odom back on the Lakers. After remarking that he would prefer to sign with the New York Knicks, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith spoke about Odom’s desperate want to return to the Lakers, and Mike Brown’s desire to help to get him back in purple and gold.
Odom could be signed to a veteran’s minimum contract of around $1.4 or 1.5 million for the season. This would be a steal for a proven talent for a struggling bench for the Lakers, who are currently in deep with the luxury tax and are looking for ways to decrease their salary cap and lessen their penalties for going over each year. Signing Odom back would be a risk, but it may be a risk that the Lakers need to take.
Some teams will offer Odom a little more than $1.4 million, but he has a lot to prove. Why not do it for the Lakers, who owe him a second chance after dumping him the way they did?
Bresnahan makes a valid point. After making a name for himself in the NBA, his lackluster performance in Dallas have left some questioning his desire, drive and his future in the league. These types of questions, especially among your peers, can either make or break a player.
Odom can choose to crumble into a declining career or he can choose to reemerge into the spotlight and once again prove his worth. What better place and team to do it for than the one he loves and the one whose fans love him.