Lakers’ Solution To Rebuilding: Bring Back Odom & Ariza?

Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times recently made an interesting suggestion when presenting five possible rebuilding blocks for the Lakers.

His fifth and final option was to bring back Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom, and here’s how he broke it down:

Send a future second-round pick and the $8.9-million traded player exception to New Orleans for forward Trevor Ariza; sign Odom for the veteran’s minimum of about $1.4 million.

He went on to say that the Hornets are in cash-saving mode, and they might actually go for the deal in order to save some money. As for Odom, who will likely be bought out by the Dallas Mavericks next month for $2.4 million, he may get more lucrative offers, but everyone knows L.O. wants to be in Los Angeles.

Personally, I think this scenario might be one of the Lakers’ best options, and here’s why:

First of all, the Lakers attempted to make a blockbuster trade (that trade for Chris Paul which would have sent Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol packing). We all know how that turned out. Then, the Lakers were in the running for Dwight Howard all season, which didn’t work out either. We must face that fact that any blockbuster deal (either for Dwight Howard or Deron Williams) is simply not going to happen. Additionally, I personally like their starting five, and feel that a few significant upgrades off the bench would drastically change the Lakers’ dynamic and once again put them amongst the serious title contenders.

Lamar Odom

Let’s start with Lamar Odom. Odom has proven himself to be a valuable starter and/or bench player…with the Lakers. He may have had a horrible season in Dallas, but he knows how to play with and off of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. When the Lakers featured a front-line rotation of Odom, Gasol, and Bynum, teams simply didn’t know what to do defensively.

Additionally, Odom was usually seen in crunch time for his defense on virtually any position that was asked of him to guard. On offense, when Bynum would sit out, Odom was the one who delivered the ball in the post to Gasol for him to work. The two had an incredible offensive chemistry that allowed Bryant to sit out for a couple extra minutes as well.

Similarly, Odom’s play-making ability was a difference-maker for the Lakers as he is able to create shots for himself as well as others; something that was sorely missed in the 2012 season. Not to mention that Odom was considered the “glue guy” in the locker room and kept everybody loose. On a team that has had immaturity issues (Bynum) and various rifts (Bryant and Gasol’s chemistry) in recent memory, a little dose of L.O. may be just what the Lakers need–on the court and off. Odom’s overall versatility was severely missed this past season, so why not attempt to bring him back?

Obviously, there is some discord between Odom and Lakers’ management. The Lakers’ front office would have to reach out first in an attempt to bury the hatchet. Deep down inside, Odom wants to be a Laker. We can only hope that the Lakers want him back, and that he’ll take a big pay cut to rejoin his mates.

Trevor Ariza

Now, let’s move on to Trevor Ariza. If you ask Lakers fans about Trevor Ariza, most will have nothing but great things to say about him. He was beloved here in L.A. for the 137 games he donned Lakers’ purple and gold (including playoffs). Unfortunately, the Lakers couldn’t keep him after the 2009 season, and virtually swapped him for Ron Artest–now Metta World Peace. Metta worked out in 2010, wasn’t quite himself in 2011, and came on late in 2012. Either way, World Peace still has a defensive presence and can be effective.

As for Ariza, he would be replacing Matt Barnes if the Lakers don’t decide to retain his services. Barnes was a scrappy defensive player with a lot of hustle on both ends of the floor. However, injuries seemed to slow him in both playoff runs as a Laker. Ariza, in my opinion, is a better, more athletic defender, and a much better shooter as well. Although Ariza’s shooting hasn’t been that great over his career, he shot an outstanding 47% from three-point range in the 2009 playoffs with the Lakers. Not to mention all the clutch steals and blocks he had as well.

The Lakers sorely need an athletic wing player to keep up with multiple positions from point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards. Ariza is capable of guarding each of these, and is one of the top defenders in the league. I personally even thought he outplayed Kobe Bryant offensively and defensively when they faced each other in the 2011 playoffs. Anyways, the Lakers need a solid defender who can also shoot.

They have seemingly had to choose between those two qualities in players over the past couple years, and it always ended with the defensive player getting the playing time–and rightfully so (think Metta World Peace and Matt Barnes getting the nod ahead of, say, Jason Kapono). It would be a nice addition if they could find a player with both qualities.

Ariza played extremely well alongside Bryant, Odom, Gasol, and Bynum when he was here and the Lakers had one of the top offenses in 2009; with Ariza being a big part of that. Although he will no longer be slashing to the basket in the triangle offense like before, Ariza is a player that can play off of other players and find ways to create offense for himself. The offense just seemed to run a lot smoother with Ariza in the lineup, and has looked suspect over the last two seasons, so why not try to bring some of that fluid offense back?

It may be a long shot, but if the Lakers can somehow pull of a move for Ariza and get Odom to return as well, it might be just what the Lakers need.

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