There’s a story my mom loves to tell when conjuring up memories of her past work experiences. Without going into detail, the story basically goes like this. She left her job of nearly five years to pursue other projects, but because she was so efficient, and knew how to perform each and every task with the utmost precision, it was hard for her boss to find a replacement. Of course, he did end up finding one—except that it wasn’t just one—there were three of them. Three new hires to do one job, a job my mom had done without fail and with little outside help.
I’m pretty sure Lamar Odom can relate. The Lakers are in the same predicament. You see, Odom wasn’t just any power forward, or I should say, limited to just that spot during any particular game. Some nights he acted as a guard, others a small forward, and if needed, he could even hold his own in the center slot. His versatility allowed him to be a chameleon in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, gave an identity to the sometimes erratic Lakers second unit, was the quintessential locker room guy, and when Andrew Bynum and/or Pau Gasol dealt with injuries, was the go-to starter.
Everyone always harped on how valuable Odom was to the Lakers. He was essentially a starter on 29 other NBA teams, and the team benefitted greatly by having him come off the bench. So was it really any wonder, considering all of Odom’s contributions to the Lakers, that fans flipped when news surfaced he’d been traded to the Dallas Mavericks for pennies on the dollar?
No, fans have a right to be upset, just like Kobe Bryant has the right to voice his dislike of the call to let Lamar go. Still, don’t let the bewilderment of Odom being shipped out to Dallas muddle your understanding of what the Lakers actually have, which is still enough to contend. They still have Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum. Obviously there’s no replacement for Odom, or at least, not one guy that Mitch Kupchak can sign to fill the void left by the lovable lefty. It’s going to take a few guys, but at least the Lakers know what they’re looking for.
The Lakers need a guy who can go from coast-to-coast, either finish at the rim or hand the ball off to a teammate, a guy who can act as the leader of the second unit, someone who won’t hesitate to launch (and actually make) shots from the perimeter, a defender who can guard physical fours, a player who can create his own shot, and still be unselfish enough to assist other teammates. Short of hooking up with a Kardashian, did I miss anything?
In any case, the Lakers will have to adjust, but there is life without Lamar, and it’s not as bleak as you may think. Just try and remember all those times you yelled at your TV when Odom should’ve been wreaking havoc on teams, but was never fully focused mentally, or in the alternative, every single time the cameras would pan out to show Khloe texting in the stands. Those times, I’m sure you won’t miss, I mean, do whatever works to put your mind at ease. The point is, Kupchak has rounded up a few viable replacements, and while they’re not perfect, they’ll do. So in no particular order…