Really?! With Kurt, Reed and Darius

Kurt —  October 16, 2008

So you want to trade Lamar Odom? Really? You think it’s obvious and simple? Really? You want to bring in a real three and rely on Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga to play more minutes along the front line? Really?

We’re just a couple of weeks camp and already trade talk is popping up all over the Web. This prompted an email conversation yesterday between a couple of Forum Blue & Gold regulars, which I am going to excerpt here. But I think the bottom line was summed up well by Darius:

If the goal is to get a championship, it won’t come down to who we play at SF, but moreso how we evolve as a team on defense and whether or not we mentally take that next step where we don’t lose 20 point leads in the Finals.

Let me be up front, I can see a scenario where trading Odom is a good idea. But to my mind, the key to that equation will be Odom’s attitude in his role this year — which could be off the bench, which may well be in a less defined role than the past and based more on matchups. Can he adjust to that and be a good team member? Or will he lose focus? I don’t think we can answer that right now.

But if talk of trading Odom were to get serious, there are a lot of factors to considered, because Odom’s versatility covers a lot of potential wholes for the Lakers. Reed explains:

When you look at possible playoff series, Odom gives us critical insurance against foul trouble. When we play against the key playoff contenders, we will often face a PF that could put our bigs in quick foul trouble (Duncan, Boozer, West, Yao, Amare, Garnett). It would be a big relief to know that if Gasol or Drew got two quick ones, Lamar could come right in and we wouldn’t lose much (as opposed to Powell or Mihm). I think this would be very important in any critical series.

Darius echoed that point:

I think that when you have a player like Odom, he’s a one-man contingency plan for so many of our weaknesses. Rebounding, Ball Handling, Passing, PF, SF, he does a lot for us. And he does it playing multiple positions. However (after these pre-season games and what he’s been for us since he came to LA), I feel like his work at SF is going to be severely limited to spot match-ups and that most of his time will be spent playing PF next to either Bynum or Pau at center. Like I said earlier, those backup minutes could easily become starter minutes if one of our bigs goes down. But while I love having contingencies, I don’t think you coach or GM to large contingencies like this one. …

A lot of talk about trading Odom has focused on bringing some of the better (and potentially available, depending on who you ask) small forwards around the league. The problem is, if you swap out Odom straight up for a three, now you rely on Powell, Mbenga and Mihm to play more minutes, key minutes if there are fouls and injuries.

And, you create a worse logjam at the three than there already is: Ariza, Walton, Radmanovic and at times Kobe all play the three, Bring in another and you are cutting minutes and dealing with frustrated players on the bench (guys who would start or play key minutes a lot of other places).

Darius added this nugget about the roster right now:

I actually think Phil would prefer to have a little less talent in players 9-14 if it means having a better 1-8 that had clear, defined roles.

Reed basically put all the pros and cons into a few bullet points about moving Odom:

• While Radman (and potential trade pieces) can play the 4 in a pinch, none can rebound or defend adequately against the versatile post players that are on almost all contending teams.

• Odom provides instant insurance against injury (in the regular season) or foul trouble (in the playoffs) as to Bynum or Pau.

• Odom gives us a tested lineup combination that gives opposing rivals fits (Utah, San Antonio) given his and Pau’s length, speed, and skill sets. No one had an answer for the Fisher, Kobe, Sasha/Radman, Odom, Pau lineup until Boston.

• We don’t currently have a maximally dominant 5 man unit that we can go to against any team. While our depth gives us great flexibility in adapting to various teams, it also is a sign that we don’t have a single lineup devoid of some glaring weakness (whether it is outside shooting b/c of Ariza or Odom, defense in Radman, or size/defense in Sasha). An upgrade for the right SF would solve this problem.

• Odom was an absolute beast after the Pau trade, shooting 59%, playing incredible team defense, controlling the boards, and giving slow opposing bigs fits.

• Odom does not have the ability to be effective on the perimeter so long as Pau and Bynum are clogging the lane. He cannot play SF next to them in key playoff series.

Which is why, as I said before, I think it all comes back to Odom’s mental state. If he is happy in whatever his new role turns out to be, he is a big asset. If he is a distraction, he may have to go but getting something for him is not that easy. Remember, soon Andrew Bynum is about to get a big deal, and the Lakers likely want to keep Ariza and Farmar’s new deal is just a couple years away. And Kobe could opt out and want to get a new max deal. That’s a lot of money. Odom’s contract comes off the books at the end of this year, and he would resign for less. (How much less, that is a good question.)

I’ll give Darius the final word:

But if the season starts and Odom is playing well in whatever role that he has for us, then do we still want to make a move? (I mean, all these issues would still be there, just lurking in the background and waiting to resurface right at the wrong time). And that’s where the gray area is. We all like LO, we all appreciate what he provides. He’s NOT easily replaceable and that’s why we’ll always struggle to actually trade him.

to Really?! With Kurt, Reed and Darius

  1. I want this conversation to be about the possibility of trading Odom, not a conversation about what deal would be better.


  2. It does make me nervous if we were to trade Odom, just because I think we do take for granted all the intangibles and hole-filling that he brings to the team. He covers a lot of gaps that other guys can’t. Also our depth of traditional 3’s is a good pro for keeping him. I just feel for us to be our best, we need Bynum and Gasol on the court together, which will be fine if Ariza can knock down the three point shot because I think he’s the best fit with those two. It makes for one potentially great defense: Fish, Kobe, Ariza, Gasol, Bynum..tough bunch


  3. I believe Odom to thrive the most as an unconventional PF, or a high rebounding SF. I understand the problem with the glut of SFs currently, and therefore upgrade might not be feasible, especially with Ariza, Walton, and Radmanovic already there (I’d personally keep an eye out for the translation and development of Sun Yue). If that’s the case, could we not argue then for a trade for depth if not necessarily talent? Odom does add a lot to the frontcourt, granted, however, I believe other solutions can be had that are beneficial for the Lakers. Certainly Odom would merit some sort of marquee player, but is that really necessary to make the Lakers better? What if you used Odom to beef up the PF and C positions with quality depth, no sexy names, just a someone that gets the job done. Granted the SF slot is weakest, but the Ariza/Radmanovic platoon is a workable solution. No, I don’t very much like the idea of Mbenga or Mihm starting should a big go down. (edited for trade names)


  4. I only see us trading Odom if we HAVE to, and the heavy likelihood of that would be closer to the trade deadline, so we know as much as possible about the situation as we can. The only reason I’d see us pulling the trigger before then is if an emergency popped up.

    Aside from all the positives LO brings to the table, as outlined above, this team owes it to him to try and make things work. And maybe if he resigns himself to his fate and just plays, things can work out. It seems like he suffers when he tries too hard to play above his head. Maybe he’ll benefit from LOWERED expectations.

    I really really really hope it works out, but I’m prepping myself, just in case.


  5. Some of this covered in the post but I wanted to break it down through my own thought process. I apologize for any redundancy.

    3 factors I think are pivotal in whether Odom is traded:

    1: As stated in the post, can he accept his role and can his ego handle it?

    2: Can he be effective in his role. In other words, is he producing and contributing to victories or is he a liability in some way because of lack of focus, inconsistency, etc…

    3. If it becomes clear that the 3 spot is killing us down the stretch, whether it be Ariza missing jumpers, Radman committing silly fouls, Odom’s lack of D on quicker players, whatever, then it becomes more imperative to move some of the assets to acquire a player who will not be a major liability in any one area the 4th quater

    With the current construct of this team here’s the lineup I see Phil using down the stretch of games.

    1. Fisher / Farmar whoever is playing better
    2. Kobe Obv.
    3. Sasha / Ariza depending on matchups.
    4-5 Bynum / Gasol / Odom whover is playing the best, producing, working individual matchups better.

    This is good news / bad news. The good news is all the options and depth that is there as alluded to in the post.

    The bad news is a lack of a consistent go to unit that finishes games for the Lakers. As Reed said:

    “We don’t currently have a maximally dominant 5 man unit that we can go to against any team. While our depth gives us great flexibility in adapting to various teams, it also is a sign that we don’t have a single lineup devoid of some glaring weakness ”

    My guy says that the Lakers will want to solve this issue. Now, that could happen internally via player improvement of someone already on the roster….
    or you trade Odom.


  6. The problem with keeping Odom is that he doesn’t appear to be the best long-term fit at the SF position, so he would have to either adjust to a 6th man role (with a reduced salary) or join another team in the offseason. Even if he thrives coming off the bench this season I don’t see him accepting that status for the next 4-5 years, which means the Lakers would likely lose a key rotation player for nothing unless they can work out a sign-and-trade. I think he will be moved unless the team is absolutely rolling with him making a significant contribution as the SF/PF/6th man/towel-boy by the time the deadline rolls around.


  7. I totally agree, but I maintain my sneaking suspicion that LO will be a Knick at some stage in his career.

    Lamar Odom continues to be one of the most misunderstood players in NBA history. I was pretty willing to entertain a Odom for Artest swap, but with that off the table LO remains a far too versatile piece to give up.


  8. I have a question that is indirectly related to Odom’s status with the team. Ariza earned a quick reputation with Laker fans for being a strong defensive player. To what extent is this really true? I watched closely when he returned last year and in the preseason and he seems to be very adept at creating turnovers in the passing lanes, or finding his way to loose balls, or generally causing chaos. He also has the physical traits of a strong defender — long, quick, athletic. But I’ve never been impressed with his on the ball lock down defense or his help rotations. It seems like he’s a bit of a gambler (kind of a Wade), but not a Bowen or Battier or Prince defender who is always in the right place and under control — which is probably more important to team defense than turnover creation. I’m sure Ariza will grow with time, but wonder what everyone else has observed so far.

    I ask, in part, because the finals showed us that we need a strong defender at SF, and many of us have serious doubts about Odom (or Radman or Walton) filling that role. If we trade Odom, how much do we need a defensive stopper at SF back, as opposed to a shooting SF or backup PF? With or without Odom, is Ariza the clear answer to our defensive problems at the 3 last year?


  9. Follow up: Some defensive numbers on Ariza.

    2007-2008 with LA: team defense was .6 points better per 48 minutes with him on the court; abysmal 25.1 PER allowed (on 61% eFg allowed).

    2006-2007 with Orlando: team defense was 4.2 better with him on the court; ok 16.2 PER allowed (as SF, 53% eFg allowed)


  10. I agree bmchamp on the need for a consistent closing lineup. It is important for confidence and cohesion that certain players know they will close out key games, especially in the playoffs. As the team stands now, I think it will be last year’s closing lineup with Bynum substituted for Odom: Fisher, Sasha, Kobe, Pau, and Bynum. Ariza could play his way into the group in place of Sasha, but having a deadly 3 point and FT shooter is so critical at the end of close games against elite defenses (as we’ll face in the playoffs). In such games, the game is super slowed down and Kobe tends to isolate, which makes spreading the floor so important. I doubt Ariza is ready to do that yet. And, Sasha showed he was a perfectly adequate defender against most teams (any that don’t have two elite offensive wings, which I think is only Boston among contenders).


  11. “Or will he lose focus”

    How does he lose something he doesn’t have?


  12. Reed raised a good question… I won’t fault Trevor for failing to slow down Wheelchair Boy in The Finals since A) he’d just come back from several months of injury inactivity and B) no one else on the Lakers could slow Pierce, either.

    But Pierce’s ability to carve up the defense at will is proof that they need to button up whatever weakness was there at the three spot. Bynum blocking shots in the middle will help, but if the road to a title runs through Boston again that’s definitely an issue that’s worth watching since no one expects Luke or VladRad to emerge as a defensive stopper.


  13. “But if the season starts and Odom is playing well in whatever role that he has for us, then do we still want to make a move? ”

    It’s probably more an issue how the others are playing. Is Ariza working? Bynum and Pau playing well together? Luke and Mihm healthy? Powell contributing and getting the hang of the triangle?

    If most of those can be answered “yes” then Odom is probably expendable. If not, then you probably need to keep him.


  14. Reed,
    I see Ariza in the Wade/Iverson mold as well. Very disruptive (which is a great trait) but not as solid in isolation on a strong scorer. I think back to the Finals when Pierce was iso’d on Trevor and remember that on a couple of plays, Pierce was able to swing through and cross Ariza’s face in order to gain a step and get into the lane. On one play he was fouled by Mihm, and on the other he got an uncontested layup. Now we can chalk that up to rust or other factors associated with his recovery from injury, but the fact remains that it did happen that way. I, like you, think he can improve within the structure of solid team d, but I wonder if he’ll ever be a Battier or Prince in the way that we need and that I would like.


  15. ASany have already said, Odom should only be traded with certain circumstances. This Main circumstance would be that he does not take on his new role or can’t adept to playing with Bynum and Gasol, or playing the three.

    Right now there seems to be three options
    1) Odom is the 6th man off the bench
    2) Odom Starts at SF
    3) Odom starts at PF Bynum off the bench

    If none of this works well then Odom probably should be traded but we would have to be very carful of who to trade him for. We would want somone who is either a great defender with three point range at the three (Players like Jefferson or Prince) Or take a strong defender at the threee and a good back up PF. With the straight up for a Prine/JEfferson type of player we would have to be certain that Powell and Mihm are able to contribute quality minutes at the 4. Becuase otherwise we go from having a deep backcourt to a shallow one.

    Anyway Odom should be given a chance in regular season games for at least a couple of months before we talk about trading him


  16. I just still admire so much how Boston’s defense so perfectly moved as one, rotated, cut off attacking lanes, recovered, forced team’s into low % two point jumpers, etc. Something San Antonio has done for years. Ariza will be fantastic with our second (speed) unit in pressing, getting steals, making things happen in transition, etc., but when the chips are down and there are two minutes left in a close game against the Spurs, Hornets, Jazz, or Celtics, do we trust him on the floor to play solid half court team defense? Obviously, we don’t know yet and time will tell. But that’s what I want to see out of him, in addition to the energy and chaos. I want to be able to throw him at Ginobili or Deron or Nash or Pierce and feel confident that they’ll have to work for low % shots. Until the finals, Sasha actually did a great job of that. Chasing Korver and Manu around (though the latter was slowed, admittedly), and not over-gambling. With Kobe such a high risk defender, I’d love our other wing to be more of a traditional conservative position defender (a Bowen, Battier type), so I hope Ariza (or Odom) can develop into that. Or, there’s always Marion… (maybe Kurt won’t see that slip).


  17. Yeah, Boston’s defense was like that phalanx in 300.

    And ultimately, I think that’s where we need to be as well. Now, I don’t think we need to be quite at that level, because Boston’s D put up historically good numbers. But what we definitely need is better awareness at all levels of our team d. That means perimeter defenders need to funnel players to the right places, they need to read and react to the P&R in a disciplined manner, and the bigs need to be there when the driver comes with the rotations behind them moving at the same time. I mean team defense is really 3 levels: on ball, rotating big, and then the rotators that cover for that rotating big on the backside glass and the opposite corner/sideline. It all needs to be there and it needs to be cohesively reactive. Stronger individual defenders can aid in this, but we will need stronger drilling in practice and games by the coaches to make sure this plays out effectively.


  18. The two weakest spots on the team last season were SF and PG. It seems to me that there is a very good chance that the players already on the roster (not including Odom) will be able to do at least an above average job at the SF position.

    I don’t know that the same can be said for the existing PGs.

    So if Odom is going to be traded, I think that the primary target should be a PG.


  19. I’m not sure the common Ginobili comparisons work with Odom. Ginobili is by far the best player at his position on his team. He is guaranteed to be on the court to close games. The reason Poppovich puts him with the second unit is he provides an offensive anchor for the group. Odom is not the best player at his position on the Lakers (Pau is), he is not guaranteed to be out there to close games, and he wouldn’t have the sexy role of offensive sparkplug for the second unit. So, I can see him being more concerned about moving to the bench than Manu would, as there are no guarantees he gets the consistent or key minutes that he craves. Ginobili prefers to start, but at least knows he’ll get consistent minutes and be the go to closer to finish games. Odom’s not going to be happy if Sasha or Ariza are closing games in his stead after he’s put in only 28-30 minutes. When you combine that with his mental issues and contract year pressure, you have a recipe for real discontent, which is the last thing we want at playoff time.


  20. Please note that if they Lakers do not trade LO this year and let him walk, that does not mean we let him go for nothing. We save on his salary (about 11-14 million).

    I think everyone makes a good point:

    a) Is Ariza a defensive stopper or a interrupter?
    b) Can LO accept the role and be a quality 6th man?
    c) Losing LO will create a hole in the frontline (backup PF)

    But I think the main frustration from last year is that we had a dumb defensive philosophy (leaving the 3 shooter, poor rotation, no accountability), poor Finals coaching, and a few dumb players (LO and Vlad). Of course, Ariza and Bynum will help us in that regard but we still had that series in our grasp. Losing Game 1 was huge given the C’s shaky playoff run. Planting that seed of doubt would have changed our fortune (and we still had a second chance in Game 4) and possibly the series.

    Be that as it may, I agree with most that we should keep the team as is and monitor LO’s mental state and production before making a decision. Even with a few flaws……..we could’ve won last year and its ours to lose this year.

    However, if by the first few months the LO experiment isn’t working and the Lakers decide to trade him, the trade MUST (if possible of course) be packaged with Luke or Vlad in order to free us from those hideous and damaging contracts.


  21. We’re not the only ones talking about Odom. TrueHoop has this:

    Lazenby talking to Tex, with some thoughts on Lamar.


  22. NEWS
    DJ Mbenga, , is expected to earn a spot on the Lakers’ roster.
    Early in training camp, the Lakers considered carrying just 13 players, but now it appears DJ Mbenga has earned a roster spot and that rookie guard Joe Crawford will get the nod over Coby Karl.


  23. Such a cold-hearted place, professional sports is. Anyway, the rep of Ariza being a ‘good defender’ came because of his athletic ability, not because of anything we really saw, if I remember correctly. He wasn’t that good of an offensive threat, so they had to spin him into a defensive minded player… which I don’t think he is. He’s focused and knows that he has to play both ends to earn a spot.

    I still don’t get Odom coming off the bench. I think Bynum will do much better in the 2nd unit, if only to save him for the postseason. Bynum-Pau will take a LONG time getting used to, not just between the two but also everyone around them, and we’ll be better off to have consistent front-line scoring early in the season.


  24. Despite his shortcomings, Lamar Odom has been a warrior for the Lakers. He has played with heart through injuries and personal tragedies. While people like to point out how Lamar got worked in the finals last year, i like to think of that as just a bad matchup for him. Laker fans need to remember all the times he punked marion and came through for us. I hope the Lakers give this current team a chance.

    Also, there really isn’t a trade out there that would make the lakers better. The Lakers have only one weakness right now and it’s at the over staffed small forward position. We need a SF that can shoot the three for a decent percentage, play good individual and team defense( I agree that Trevor is more interrupter than stopper, he gambles why too much) and can handle physical wing players like Paul Pierce. In other words we need Rick Fox.

    Currently, there are only 4 players that fit this description: Shane Battier, Bruce Bowen, James Posey, and Tayshaun Prince. That is all I can think of. Every NBA championship since 2001 has had one of these four or Foxy. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

    But if we can’t trade Lamar for one of these four players, (and I don’t think we can) then its not even worth talking about.


  25. Trading Lamar only makes sense if the Lakes know they aren’t going to re-sign him, or can’t. Then they have to trade him. If they can or will, he stays. That simple. We know what we’ll get from Lamar, and no matter how anyone feels he should be playing, what we get from him is good. So far, all the coming off the bench talk leads me to believe they intend on keeping him. If they really wanted to trade him, they would never try to discount his trade value. If they do end up trading him, it will be for a defensive player who will come off the books as well. All about the money.


  26. I distinctly remember reading an article by Bill Simmons in which he put in words THE biggest reason why Odom needs to go. Here it is:

    Odom is a good versatile player. He also comes off as a nice guy. But he makes bonehead plays, and his mental state is far too fragile to be a key piece on a championship squad. I mean, come on, the guy SHIES AWAY from spotlight. He can help us win a lot of regular season games, but someone with a headstrong personality would be a far better fit than a lump of talent. I’d take a Rick Fox clone over L.O. in a heartbeat.


  27. According to the post practice report, Phil is easing up on Odom and picking up on Bynum (as Jones said yesterday):

    “(Odom’s) starting to get a feel for it,” Jackson said. “He’s starting to play basketball. He looks like he’s playing really well now. His timing is there, his reaction is there, his conditioning is getting better. All those things.”

    Jackson saved his criticism of the day for Andrew Bynum, whom Phil said took a step backwards in practice yesterday by not really getting himself involved. Jackson added that he “didn’t know” if Bynum’s contract situation was on his mind.

    After Phil was done, Bynum addressed the media and mentioned that he “doesn’t really think about (his contract),” giving the answer you’d expect to hear. Any type of contract question is usually going to render an answer such as that… But just to check, I said this:

    “Basically, you just play well and play hard and things will take care of themselves?”

    “Yes sir,” he responded.


  28. Why Lamar shouldn’t be traded.
    He’s proven he can complement either Gasol or Bynum.
    When other teams go small Lamar is usually superior to the other team’s hybrid 3/4.
    Weakening one part of the team to improve another rarely succeeds.
    Team chemistry.

    Why Lamar won’t be traded.
    It takes two to trade. Who has a defensive wizard SF who rains 3s that they feel is expendable?
    Teams looking to dump salary aren’t giving up talented youngsters,they’re trying to unload over-paid players who didn’t work out.And why would the Lakers want that kind of player?
    Teams that have a shot at title will take a chance on a talented rental,but none of the current contenders are among those alledged to have interest.

    Why Lamar will be on roster next yr.
    His actual salary this yr is @$11mil. Ave-mediocre back-up bigs get $4mil,young good ones will get the full MLE,close to $6mil next yr. Letting Lamar walk will not save all that much money and having to use the MLE on a replacement cripples improving other areas of the roster.

    Why Lamar will be traded.
    The NBA,where d***a** GMs happen.


  29. Question: For those of you that think that the Lamar/Gasol/Bynum lineup will be very successful, what is there in Lamar’s past that makes you think that he will give the Lakers what they need at SF?


  30. It is going on two years now and I still hear people talking about how to Lakers have to trade Lamar or lose him for nothing. Losing Lamar for nothing may be the optimal solution for the Lakers. The can use him this year to back up several positions and then he comes off our books next year and we can pay our developing players. What – exactly – is wrong with that logic?

    This may not be what the Lakers do this year, but this option is not really taken seriously by most fans. Given the really serious financial situation next year, we really have to consider this option as a more likely scenario.


  31. Craig, there’s nothing wrong with it, except that there is that hope of Lamar blossoming into what everyone thinks he can be. Either people want to keep him thinking he will, or want to trade him making others think that he can blossom.

    Anyway, I don’t see the rush here for the Lakers. We have a full season to evaluate how much worth Bynum and Lamar have to our team. Egos may be hurt in the process, but if we have a stellar season (and promise of many more) such wounds can be patched up rather quickly.


  32. Regarding Ariza as a good defender.

    Scroll down to Small Forwards. Statistically he was ranked #4

    I’ve seen other statistics based articles that him similarly ranked as a defender. He’s been very good. This past year with the Lakers he didn’t have good stats. I don’t know why that is, but before that he’s been very good on the defensive end in ways that are measurable.


  33. More on Ariza’s defense

    He’s in the 95th percentile, which means that he’s a better defender than 95% of the guys in the league.


  34. Laker fans always need a scapegoat. Who will it be if Lamar gets traded?


  35. 34. me!


  36. I seriously think Odom will accept and thrive in his role as a “ginobili-type” of bench player. I think it was just a shock for him initially, probably relating “bench” to an insignificant role or minutes, but now he is slowly understanding his new role, first one off the bench, first or second option of the second unit, and more touches when kobe and pau troop to the bench, with the same or a little less minutes as he is accustomed to. I think he will play the role similar to Kukoc of the bulls before. Like the others have stated, he is a versatile player, capable of filling different needs at any given time and situation. You don’t trade a player like that. plus, he likes it over in LA. Other factors may be that the team would not want a multi-year salary to replace odom’s expiring contract. They will need the cap space to re-sign bynum, farmar and ariza. I’m pretty sure odom would take less money than what he is making now to sign a long term contract with the lakers because this is where he will get HIS RINGS!


  37. for me the defining moment for Ariza defensively last season (when he was healthy) was during the Denver game when Iverson was HOT and the combo of Kobe and Ariza just took him out of the game completely towards the end of the game.


  38. the other Stephen October 17, 2008 at 8:24 am

    you are very wise, stephen.


  39. The real world of NBA is very different from the virtual/idealistic world of NBA LIVE or other computer games where we can construct absolutely dominant teams. In the real world the more quality you manage to keep on your team the higher chances are of your success given you work out the chemistry, teamwork and complementarity issues for a roster.

    The logjam at 3 is a problem, but it is a good problem. Just because we have 3-4 guys capable of playing well in that position does not mean that someone has to go. The way I see it, it is the survival of the fittest. Whoever is better plays. If that means that Radmanovic, Walton or Ariza do not get enough PT then that’s that. Their contracts should be treated as costs that are already assumed. We do not have to play a player just because he makes 5-6 million dollars. It is player’s problem if he can not get enough PT (lack of fit, hardwork, etc)

    Lamar Odom is our wildcard against any team, especially now that Kobe and Pau are top dogs, with Bynum having the 3rd top dog status. Only Utah (Okur), Detroit (Prince) and NO (Stojakovic) have a comparable talent in terms of their 4th best players. And we know, with perhaps exception of Prince, that LO is the best 4th option in the league.

    We do not always have to make changes for the sake of doing something. Staying put and inaction is also a type of action, and I believe maintaining the current roster is the best and most efficient thing Lakers Organization can do at the moment, given the trade options available.


  40. I can’t understand why some people continue with this ridiculous notion that Odom must be traded. Look, at this point we are not even sure if Bynum truly is 100%. In fact, from what we have seen and heard in the news reports, Bynum appears to be lacking motivation and is not necessarily acting like a “hungry” professional who is dy ing to get a championship. The kid seems to think he is entitled to greatness by virtue of the half season he played last year.

    So, with the uncertainty about Bynum and with no better options, why in the world would we trade him?


  41. Anybody notice Winter’s comment that he thought Kobe’s legs seemed dead. If this is the observation is suspect Phil will restrict his minutes in the first half of the season and this should result in more minutes for Lamar – one way or the other. Another plus for Lamar’s coming off the bench, if Bynum doesn’t fill this role.


  42. The Lakers should give the current roster at least thirty games together before they start thinking trade. This gives the players and coaches time to work out rotations and offensive/defensive games plans. It also will let the organizatiion see what they need. If they do decide to look for trades are you going to find a better small forward available than the ones we have on the roster? There are not going to be any power forwards better than Lamar available for trade. The reality is that we have a very talented roster that should be given the chance to play together for the whole year.
    #29 Lamar played a lot of SF in Miami before we traded for him. He filled a different role than what the Lakers are asking him to do, but he has had enough success in the past at that position to make it a worthy experiment.


  43. On the LATimes blog right now they have a post about the Bynum and Odom issues and towards the end they talk to Fisher, who makes a great point that should be made over and over again to Lamar (and his agent): Champions make more money. There is a premium on championship experience. You see it over and over again. From Fisher to Posey to Tyronne Lue and Devean George teams will pay extra for a guy who has that experience, even if they were small time niche players. Teams want guys like that to set a tone for their youngsters.

    So if LO takes a 6th man role or whatever role he needs, his paycheck doesn’t have to fall with it. Teams will see his willingness to do what it takes to win and he will probably command more money than he would by being unable to fit in and needing to be traded. Then he’s just a guy with solid stats who could fill a specific gap on a team. Help the Lakers win a title, and he’ll be paid more whether or not he starts (or maybe the title will increase operating revenue, making it more likely the team can re-sign him).


  44. Jed,
    “There are not going to be any power forwards better than Lamar available for trade”

    Too many people are focused on getting someone “better than Lamar”. That is not the issue; the issue is possibly getting someone who does a better job then Lamar of filling the gaps on this Laker roster.

    Those are two completely different things.


  45. 44. Re: Andrew Bynum’s agent. He did exactly what he should do, put pressure on the management going into the negotiations. Say his client wants to be a Laker but they are not working with him, rile up the fan base a little. It’s Mitch’s job not to pay attention to all that and cut a fair deal.

    What worries me more is that the two sides seem very far apart. I simply don’t want this to become like the ugliness in Chicago this summer. We need to avoid that.


  46. I might be on this small bus who wants to start the same line up that finished last year and bring bynum off the bench…we were playing outstanding since the Pau trade in February and throughout the playoff (beside the finals)…Odom was at his best when he played PF next to Pau at center…Those two had such a great chemistry and I dont see too much logic in breaking something apart when its working fine. Bynum gives us all those things that we were missing in the finals and my thing is, instead of providing Odom “starter-like” minutes off the bench, I think it should be Bynum who should be in those shoes. Finding someone to replace Odom is going to be near impossible because of all the things he does for us. We might want him to have a great outside jumper and a three point shooter like lots of other SF, but how many “SF” have the type of post game he has, how many can rebound like him? I think instead of thinking about trading him, I think coaching staff should really be looking who should come off the bench between Bynum and Odom.


  47. A few reasons why we should keep LO in our frontline:

    Bynum, Odom, Gasol, Mihm, Mbenga will combat Oden, Aldridge, Frye, and Prizybilla……

    I just think Portland is going to make the playoffs and historically and currently, they are a bad matchup for us.

    By the way, I thought this site was going to get revamped over the summer? Any news on that front Kurt?


  48. 48. New look coming in two or three weeks. Several things coming in the next couple of weeks.


  49. Mamba,
    I think all of our options should be explored, including the one that you mention.

    I’ve always been a staunch supporter of LO, but I always want what’s going to be best for the team, egos/salaries/feelings be damned. One of the reasons that I’d even consider a trade of Odom (mind you I’m not arguing for or against it, just consdering it) is because I want to maximize the talent on the team and if Odom can’t be put in a position/role that will bring out his best ability, then I’d like to see a scenario where our team is helped the most. And if that means we’d be better without him (for whatever reason, whether it be his fit in a role or his ability to mentally adapt to a bench postion, ect) then I’d like that option explored.

    In the end, I trust that Phil is going to shape the team the best way that he knows how and ultimately put players in the best positions to help the team. If that means that either Lamar or Andrew comes off the bench then fine. If that means that Odom starts at SF with Bynum and Pau in the frontcourt, that’s fine too. If that means that Phil and Mitch have to make a trade to get a player (or more) on the team that will help the most, that’s also fine. I’m for what’s best for the team and that’s it. Right now, I think a healthy, motivated, and focussed Odom would make our team stronger than other reasonable options that are potentially out there. I’m not willing to just give up on Odom when he was a driving force to our Finals appearance. Some people think that Odom got outclassed in that series, but the Celtics had an advantage at that PF and a defensive scheme and level of execution that was unmatched last season. So, I don’t blame Odom. I really don’t blame anyone….how can you place individual blame on a failed team effort? I’m looking for improvement as a whole. I think that can come with Odom on the team. And based off Phil’s most recent quotes, I think we’re coming along.


  50. I know it’s arguable, but I see Odom as the third best player on the team. The passing chemistry that Pau and LO have makes them both better, and especially effective in the offense. LO’s biggest problem is that he’s never lived up to Kobe’s expectations, and neither of them have really made a commitment to learn how to play to each others strengths.

    All this talk of bringing LO off the bench assumes a few silly things: that Bynum can play with Pau, and that Bynum is better than Odom. Neither have been proven.


  51. It does strike me as odd to break up the Fish/Kobe/Radman/LO/Pau starting five given how successful it was in the second half of last year. If we keep that starting five, everyone in the unit is happy (as are the fans, since it produces a great winning percentage and fun basketball) I think Bynum might do us more good off the bench, for now. I bet Lee (Bynum’s agent) would be thrilled to see that. But it’s an 82-game season and winning the West will be an 82-game race.


  52. Darius,

    I agree with you with we need to utilize all of your options to the fullest in hope of bringing the trophy back to LA. But what I don’t understand is how are people just putting Lamar Odom down after a bad series? I might be wrong, but didn’t just about everybody played horribly in the finals? Why is there only talks of Lamar playing bad? Gasol didn’t play great like he did in the first 3 rounds…Neither did Kobe, Fish, the bench mob…Again, I am all for getting our team stronger and better in order to bring home the trophy but we had a great formula that was already working and it just needed some tweaking, not a whole re-do. Pau and Lamar play go good off of each other that it will be very hard for Bynum and Pau to match. And my worry is that, trying to get the tandem of Pau and Drew to work efficiently together might end up costing us the beautiful chemistry that was between Lamar and Gasol. Lamar is a wonderful talent, that is matched by only a handful of people in this league. I, for one, have been against using Lamar as a point forward. Lamar has great handle, for a PF, but not for a guard. His handles are meant to take advantage of slow footed PF, not versatile SF around the league. Making him a point forward meaning more drives through the traffic, meaning more offensive fouls that he has a nache for picking up when going strong to the hole from the outside. I really believe the best way to utilize our talent is to leave the same starting line up from last year (although I am all for Sasha starting at 2, Kobe at 3, instead of Kobe at 2 and Rad at 3) and bring Bynum off the bench early and often to keep anchoring our defense.


  53. OT, sort of: Free tix for tom’w’s lakers preseason game at Staples!

    I can’t go. Good seats, sec 205, row 2 (two tickets). The first person who emails me AFTER saturday at high noon and leaves a name and an email address gets the tickets. If you email me before then, you will be disqualified. My email address is

    This is not a joke. These are my season tickets and I can’t go. Please do not email me unless you are SURE you will attend…. There are two games tomw; the Lakers play at 7:30. Royal Room admission included.


  54. mamba24,
    “but we had a great formula that was already working and it just needed some tweaking, not a whole re-do.”

    The team is getting a major re-do; relative to the Lakers of June, Bynum, Ariza, Mihm, and Powell are “new”; Odom and Gasol have new positions. Turiaf is gone. Walton is healthy.


  55. 49) Kurt,
    “New look coming in two or three weeks.”

    But this look got the blog to the Finals last season. Don’t you want to give it a chance this year and see if it can go all the way?


  56. I really think Drew is going to be starting the season on the bench this year. With him and Pau looking less then stellar starting together, Phil calling him out this week for lack of enthusiasm and being late for practice, and the fact the Lakers offense was so good at the end of last year with Pau and Lamar on the floor together, the writing is on the wall.

    Plus, after watching Drew this preseason, it’s pretty obvious he trying to gun his way to that new contract extension. He’ll get all the opportunities he wants running with the second team or spelling LO or Pau if they get in foul trouble.

    I expect Phil to mix Drew, Pau and LO in the lineup together depending on matchups since Pau cannot guard PF’s on the perimiter. Like against Dallas…does anyone exect Pau to slow Dirk down 25 feet from the hoop with Drew checking Dampier? But against Phoenix, the matchup might be good with Drew going head to head with the Big Washed-Up and Pau trying to contain Amare.

    I just don’t see an iron-clad starting 5 with Drew and Pau together.


  57. Great post and comments. Yea, last year did seem to go the way Laker fans would want. Deep run into the Finals and just a couple of games away from the title. What kind of changes can improve on that. Looking forward to the FB&G changes/surprises and the t-shirts.


  58. New post up, Barcelona preview.


  59. I’m thinking that Phil made a lot of sense there. Alternatively starting Drew and Odom off the bench seems like a good idea, depending on match ups, and current player performance. Especially starting Drew off of the bench at the start of the year. If he’s hungry for All-star glory, minutes and money, then let him work for it. He’s young and that should keep him hungry. Also, I can see him running the break with Farmar, Sasha, and the rest of the second line, as well as give them a go-to scoring option in the half-court.

    I think the Fisher-Kobe-Ariza-Odom-Gasol lineup really has potential, and can start the season strong. Meanwhile, we’re giving Gasol and Bynum the chance to work on their co-ordination, and giving the PJ the chance to put different lineups out there and see who plays well together, which lineup is good for lock-down defence and what’s better for running, etc.

    I think a trade before at least 2 months would be sad if not anything else, bcuz our guys have plenty of potential to play exciting basketball and put plenty of points up. As far as Odom’s performance in the Finals is concerned, people have been picking on him too much! The entire Lakers as a team (this includes Kobe and the Zen Meister) didn’t really expect to make it to the Finals, and didn’t really look like they knew what to do when they got there. Couple that with the C’s hunger (oh KG had spent sleepless night for years waiting for that chance), veteran leadership (Posey, Brown, Cassel have all been there before) and team defence, and that all adds to very little chances for out young Lakers team. Boston was ready and the Lakers were deer in headlights, simple as that.This year should be different, with the team aiming for the trophy right from the start.

    Also, here’s to hoping that our depth allows us to give Kobe’s “dead” knees plenty of rest during the season. He should be played alot only in close games and when the offense really isn’t working. Other than that, I think the Lakers line-up has potential to win big games without him, and the Lakers could really learn how to create offence without number 24. If the Lakers are clicking nicely without him, just imagine what would happen when he IS then introduced to the game. Kobe getting the ball on cuts and getting single coverage would just be too much fun to watch.