After a month of posturing on both sides Lamar Odom signed a 4 Year, $33 Million contract to remain with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. The fourth year on the contract is a club option in case Lamar eats too much candy and the Lakers want out. There were a lot of worried people in Los Angeles over the past month because Odom’s contract negotiations and what kind of Laker team we would be looking at next year without him. With the rest of the NBA elite (Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, San Antonio) upping the ante by strengthening their rosters, it became vital that the Lakers sign the 6 foot 10 inch Odom to keep the teams versatilite championship core intact.
Odom was a selfless player last year, coming off the bench for the majority of the season until Andrew Bynum got injured again. It can be argued that Lamar Odom was the X-Factor for the champs because of his ability to be a catalyst while playing with the starters and upping the tempo while jetting around the court with the second unit. Lamar Odom became an invaluable part of the Lakers nucleus because his size and skills caused many matchup problems for teams that just did not have an answer to the small forwards length, passing ability, dribbling savvy and his presence both inside and out.
Normally, resigning Odom would have been a no-brainer, but the Lakers chose to play hard ball because they are several million over the luxury, so every dollar counts twice. That means that even though Odom signed for $33 Million, with the luxury tax implications, he really signed for 4 Years $66 Million if the Lakers salary number remains around the same for the length of the deal. And that’s without taking into account the anticipated luxury tax shrinkage next year. Laker fans should be Wayne and Garthing it outside of Owner Jerry Buss’ house with a million man “we are not worthy chant”.
Alas, it is not clear to me that Laker fans know how fortunate they really are that Odom never really wanted to leave L.A., because he easily could have. It was well publicized that the Miami Heat duo of Pat Riley and Dwayne Wade were intensely trying to bring Lamar back to the Heat, after being shipped to the Lakers for Shaq many moons ago. Information that was not as well publicized was that the Portland Trailblazers offered Odom a contract worth upwards of $40 Million Dollars, to play besides Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. But Odom opted to sign on the dotted line for less money to remain a Laker, and defend their title.
There was jubilation and a huge sigh of relief in The City of Angels when it was reported that Odom was coming back. The Lakers would have looked very foolish if they had lost both Ariza and Odom from their championship squad, but they did not. Odom returning provides invaluable insurance for the Lakers; It allows for their continued lineup flexibility, which would have been severely lacking if he had departed, and left the Lakers to bank on Andrew Bynum having an injury free and productive year, neither of which are safe bets. The wild card fact in this deal is that Lamar and Ron Artest are very good friends, which should help keep #37 happy and for the Lakers title hopes sake, focused.
Whether replacing Ariza with Artest makes them a better squad remains to be seen, but there is no question that the Lamar Odom signing was a deal that LA needed to get done. This move ensures that the Champion Lakers squad is whole and ready for a title defense in whats shaping up to be one of the most anticipated NBA seasons in recent memory.
I for one am an excited NBA fan. Still more NBA to come from me with my analysis of the rest of the 2009 NBA Draft and an overview of what can be expected from the NBA this year.
From your blogging buddy,