Physically gifted. Overwhelmingly versatile. In other words, the human IPhone.
And yet, amid the aforementioned, Lamar Odom remains team-less three weeks into 2009 free agency.
Still in his prime, the 29-year-old is caught in the middle of a tug-o-war between two teams that have undoubtedly flourished with L.O. wearing their respective jersey.
For the Los Angeles Lakers – who proposed a $27-million contract spanning three years before shelving the offer due to impatience with Odom’s indecision – signing their 2008-09 sixth man would reaffirm last season’s championship nucleus, as well as maintain the depth and length that few, if any, opponents could counter. Odom’s playoff numbers speak for themselves: 12.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 32 minutes per game, including 52 percent shooting and seven double-doubles.
Conversely, for the Miami Heat, Odom’s return to the Sunshine State – where he helped the Heat advance to the playoffs during the 2003-04 campaign via 17 more wins than the previous year – would up Miami’s chances of anchoring Dwayne Wade following the upcoming season when the five-time all-star will become an unrestricted free agent.
Because the Heat are arguably more in need of Odom’s services than are the Lakers, Miami was indirectly forced to provide a lengthier offer (five years for $34 million) considering Odom's complaints about the duration of Los Angeles’ proposal.
From the Lakers’ standpoint, resigning Odom is more so a luxury than a necessity in light of the acquisition of Ron Artest, which gives Los Angeles a perimeter player who can shoulder the offensive load when Kobe Bryant hits the pine. Sure Odom was that guy, but Artest is a more consistent shooter (and significantly better defender), not to mention his willingness to accept less money ($18 million) and years (three).
Additionally, Odom’s emergence as a potent sixth man last postseason left Andrew Bynum on a short leash, so much so that the 21-year-old starting center often played in fear that any one mistake would land him a seat on the bench. Even when Phil Jackson elected to keep Bynum on the court for extended opening-quarter minutes, Jackson almost always preferred Odom over Bynum at the end of the game, sometimes to the point where Bynum didn’t see any fourth-quarter action. Thus, Odom’s potential departure out of Los Angeles could serve as a blessing in disguise for the underdeveloped Bynum.
Regardless of where Odom ultimately settles, the human IPhone is sure to work anywhere.
About the Author
Written by Josh Hoffman