Watching Odom

Kurt —  December 30, 2008
Around Smashbox Studios - MBFW - Day 3

The game against the Warriors was a pretty good example of the Lamar Odom conundrum. On one hand, in his 21 minutes Odom had just 6 points and 3 rebounds and was did not seem to stamp his imprint on the game. Then again, at the end of the day he was +22, the best on the Lakers. He leads the Lakers this season in +/-, good things happen when he is on the floor.

So, for fun I re-watched the game and just tracked Odom, watching him on both ends of the court. What I came away thinking is that the +/- numbers are no accident. Here are a few observations:

• He understands the offense very well and spaces out well, then comes crashing to the boards when needed.

He often is set up on the weak side of the triangle, and against the Warriors (as in many games) there was not a lot of ball movement to the weakside to take advantage of Odom and the spacing. (To be fair, against the Warriors that was in part because the Lakers got pretty much whatever shot they wanted on the strong side, that was not a defensive tour d’ force by Golden State.)

I think when the ball sticks, or when Kobe goes Kobe, Odom can be one of the guys who gets hurt the most in terms of touches. But sometimes he finds gaps.

For example, the last possession of the third quarter for the Lakers, the team is running and Ariza tries to feed Bynum for a fast break dunk, but it gets stripped and the ball is loose. Not shockingly Ariza outhustles everyone for the board, but while all this is going on Odom quietly slipped all alone to the corner, Ariza gets him the ball, Odom sets his feet and drains the three.

Then on the first possession of the fourth quarter, Sasha does his best Curley Neal imitation, but Odom finds a space in a gap and gets the ball on a pass, goes up and is fouled in the act. He does that a lot, he just doesn’t always get the pass.

• When he’s not getting touches in the flow of the offense, every once in a while he creates one for himself, and he can be a little predictable doing that.

Here’s an example. There are 40 seconds to going the third quarter, Odom hasn’t gotten a lot of touches and the Lakers need a fairly quick shot for a two-for-one. Odom brings the ball up court after an outlet, gets to the top of the key and decides its his turn, He starts a drive to the basket from the three point arc (with his man way off him), going left of course. It’s pretty easy to see it coming, and Turiaf has seen that plenty. He and smacks Odom’s shot back out to half court.

But Odom adjusted to what happened. And I think we overlook that aspect of him sometimes.

As an example, early in the fourth Odom brings the ball up court after a rebound and gets a little half-hearted drag screen from Gasol, fairly deep, but Odom uses it to attack the rim early in the possession. When the Turiaf comes again looking for a block Odom feeds back to Gasol who closes easily. He makes a similar play a couple possessions later, feeding Gasol when the defense collapsed.

• Odom really plays solid defense. Just a couple of examples.

At the 3:10 mark of the first quarter, his man, Brandan Wright goes isolation, with a spin move into the lane and shoots, but Odom’s length really disturbs the shot that misses. Biedrins outworks Gasol for the offensive board and Golden State starts again. This time Stephen Jackson blows by Kobe and Odom rotates to help, so Jackson dishes to Wright who is going in for the lay-up. Odom recovers and blocks the shot but gets some arm in the process.

1:10 mark of the First Quarter. Odom is part of a soft full quarter pressure, but just after half court he and Ariza trap the Warrior ball handler. That’s a lot of length in a trap, and the result is a pass that goes out of bounds for a turnover.

At 8:01 in the second. CJ Watson blows by Fish in the isolation and Odom comes over to help in the paint, while his man Write slides out for the 12-foot baseline jumper and Watson gets him the ball. Odom is quick and recovers and his closeout helps cause a miss.

At 6:25 in the second, due to rotations, Odom ends up on Beidrens. He does a good job staying in front of him and forces a miss from three feet.

Next trip down the court, Ariza is on Jackson and funnels the driving Jackson to the strong side help, in Odom. And Odom strips him for a steal and brings the ball up himself.

There is a lot of this throughout the game.

• With Farmar out, Odom is doing more ball handling with the second unit.

• A couple of Odom’s rebounds came because he simply outworked Turiaf for the ball. Not a lot of people outwork Turiaf for anything.

Kurt

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102 responses to Watching Odom

  1. Points don’t say enough what Odom does for the Lakers. I still want him to start so we can see that super big front court, but he’s doing great leading the second unit.

  2. From previous thread (adapted):

    It is almost impossible to imagine Lamar with the Lakers next year. It makes sense to continue reducing his playing role/time this year as the season progresses in favor of Trevor, Bynum, and others–and that is not good for Lamar’s future in the NBA. It may be further affecting his inconsistent play–though Lamar has been amazingly inconsistent throughout his career.

    Since the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol, Lamar’s business value has, unfortunately for him, far surpassed his athletic value. He’s a “big bucks expiring contract” this year–both to the Lakers and to other teams in the league.

    The Lakers big money commitment is to Kobe and Pau, and Laker future big money commitment has already been made to Bynum. Even though they have made long term commitments to Walton and VladRad, they very much want to resign Trevor. They’ve signed Sasha long term in the back court, and Fisher is a key veteran. Just keeping all of these players next year would use up Lamar’s expiring salary–and the Lakers are already 10 million over the cap.

    If the Lakers don’t do a salary dump this year for Lamar, they simply can’t afford him next year unless they are willing to start eliminating a number of other players. Trades for VladRad and/or Walton do little or nothing to address this business problem, since it just amounts to trading salaries. Ariza and Mihm, the only other expiring contracts, are a chump change down payment on players the Lakers would give up in exchange for a serious Odom salary next year.

  3. My problem with bringing Odom off the bench is that the Lakers spent the last 4 years trying to get him more aggressive and to expand his role and now his role is reduced by design. I’m not sure that is the right tactic with a guy who is content to defer to others.

    But when he shoots the jumper without hestiation and with confidence he really opens up the court for the rest of the 2nd unit.

  4. Odom’s doing what’s needed of him, for the most part. There will still be some tweaks to his role and those of others as the season wears on, but we should remember that he was often the most-consistent player on the floor for the Lakers (aside from Kobe, of course) as they made their post-Gasol run through the second half of the season last year. He can continue to play a valuable role this year as well.

    Yes, LO was overmatched by stronger guys in the playoffs, but that’s like finding fault with Jordan Farmar for losing out to Yao on a jump ball. You can’t expect a smaller guy like Odom to bang with a Kendrick Perkins and come out ahead. That’s just not his game. And with Bynum back, it won’t have to be.

    I think my only worry on Odom long-term is where he’ll fit in moneywise after this season. As well as he fits in on the floor, I think it may be too big a stretch for Buss to retain LO with the other big contracts already on the ledger.

    That said, barring a no-brainer deal offer I’d prefer that the Lakers take their chances with LO this season — even if it means losing him to free agency come the summer — than dealing him during this season for the sake of a “something in return is better than nothing” argument. Let’s let this team make it’s run and worry about the future come July.

  5. Chris J,

    I agree. This team is playing well enough as is. Barring injury, management needs to let this team play out the year as constituted to see what they can do–as in, can they win a championship together. I am also in agreement that we should not trade Odom. If he leaves during the summer, so be it. But if we win the championship, will Odom be wiiling to take less to play for more and will Dr. Buss be willing to loosen the purse strings for a championship winning team? Only time will tell.

  6. Thanks for the blog Kurt. It helps when you detail the variety of things LO does that impacts the game.

    The problem comes that Buss has determined (rightly in my mind) that Kobe, Pau, and Bynum are the cornerstone for the franchise. Remember in the previous era there were only two cornerstones – Shaq and Kobe. As a player who leads by filling in the little holes in a team, Lamar cannot expect more than an average salary from the Lakers next year. Another club with two big guns might want to invest more in Lamar and that is where he probably will wind up. His weakness is also his strength – he can be depended to plug the little holes all over the court, but he can’t be counted on to dominate.

  7. 4 – I agree. Can’t break something up before we’ve tried it.

    Even if Lamar doesn’t want to resign, we might work out a sign and trade. If not, it doesn’t matter all that much. Buss won’t want to be too far over the cap, and Lamar’s money can go towards re-signing Ariza and Powell.

    Every championship team needs a versatile player like Lamar. I haven’t watched him closely, but I’ve seen him use his length and quickness beautifully on the defensive end, a very underrated part of his game. I’d still like to see him take a shot at guarding Pierce. Pierce isn’t explosive, Lamar should be able to stay with him, and his length and strength should bother Pierce more than Luke or Vlade.

  8. Great post. People are quick to skewer Lamar but slow to give praise for all the little things he does.

    However, I agree with the sentiment that this is Lamar’s last year as a Laker. The Lakers cannot afford to give him a starting-player-like salary – and that’s what he will command in the open market. I know he has his issues, but there are a lot ot teams out there who could benefit from Lamar’s skills. Also, Lamar is no fool. He is not going to take a $3-5 million a year paycut to play for the Lakers. Heck, even Ronnie Turiaf left the Lakers for more money – and this is the team that took care of him when he had heart surgery.

    Still, I don’t agree on trading Odom. With Odom on the team we are a contender. Dumping his salary in exchange for some youth with “potential” does not align with the Laker’s objective to play for titles now before the window starts to close on Kobe’s and Pau’s careers. The best move the Lakers can make is not trading Lamar and use the money coming off the books this summer to sign Ariza and a veteran defender.

  9. Trade Lamar for a can of mixed nuts.

  10. Mutombo’s back with the Rockets.

  11. 10. That’s a good fit for them. I still say that the Rockets are the only team in the West I think can keep a healthy Lakers team out of the Finals. If all their pieces come together, they will be very good.

  12. I have nothing but love for Lamar. The only real problem I have with his game is his inability or refusal to use his right hand. If he could, 75% of the charges he gets called for would be avoidable.

  13. #11 – I agree. A healthy Rockets squad is scary. I also think the new version of the Nuggets can be a spoiler for any Western Conference Team. I am just happy that we have beaten these teams while they had injured players, because with our awful schedule in Fed and March, these early wins may help determine the Western conference home court advantage.

  14. Kurt,

    Not sold on Houston. T-Mac and Yao just don’t have the stones (even if healthy) to either make it that far or beat a healthy Laker team playing well enough to be back in the Finals. Can’t see it.

  15. I meant back in the WCF.

  16. Im just glad Mount Mutombo didn’t set up shop with the C’s.

    Wondahbap- I wouldn’t put Yao in T-Mac’s dark dungeon of loserdome. Yao is a tough cat, and they have lots of shooting around him (Alston, Battier, Barry, Head, Brooks). Adelman is an underrated coach and they have some nice pieces. That being said, the team that seems to be look 2nd strongest in the West is the Spurs, who quietly are playing really well and are using Mason and Hill to keep Finley and Bowen’s minutes down. If they get a Joe Smith type they will contend

  17. 14, I agree completely. I think T-mac is a bit overrated. The guy always chokes in the playoffs as well. I am more worried about the Spurs, just because of that experience and mental toughness they have. New Orleans bothers me a bit to, but they prolly couldnt beat a Lakers team playing at their best. Its hard to believe in a Rocket team that seems to choke every year.

  18. Everyone said KG choked in the playoffs as well. Then there was last year.

  19. I disagree about the Rockets being a threat. I think the title contenders are Boston, Cleveland, L.A, San Antonio, and New Orleans in no particular order. I say San Antonio because i think they are better then they were last year with Mason and Hill. They have more depth. And New Orleans because they got Posey and Antonio Daniels for Pargo, and i think Posey is a lot more battle tested and Daniels will be a great replacement for what Pargo did. Also, its taking them a while to take off because there chemistry hasn’t been right with Chandler on and off and incorporating Posey and Daniels.

  20. KG did choke in the playoffs last year. How many short jumpers, clanged dunks and missed put-backs is a man allowed in a 6-game series before choke is appropriate? He was way off when playing Atlanta. Pierce took care of the Cavs (won’t happen this year) and then the Finals were all on PP and Allen. Garnett stuffed his stats after the games were decided against us. I’m still in the camp that considers KG a choker.

  21. Buss and the Lakers can afford anything they want.Amazes me how many guys can read minds.See how much Lamar is worth late in the year when a big gets injured.

  22. Number one thing that would bother me about trading Lamar, besides losing a great player, is you do not mess with the chemistry on a 25-5 team and Lamar seems to be the number one chemistry guy. He brought this team together last year during the pre-season by bringing his personal chief to the Hawaii and making sure they all hung out together and seems to be everyone’s friend and a one of a kind guy. Trading someone like that even for a better player (which id be hard pressed to find) is asking for morale issues. This team has had a vibe since last season that we have not felt on a Lakers team in a long time, the chemistry and friendship they have contributes to their winning just as much as talent and lamar is a big part of that.

  23. also, nobody is giving Odom a big contract, especially not New York. that would mess with there 2010 plan. I think loyalty, chance of winning, and love of the city are worth more than a starting spot on lets say the knicks, to Odom at least. dudes different

    …oh and lets not forget he is the Lakers best dresser. that xmas day outfit was sharp.

  24. 11 – Agreed, if the Rockets can get everything together they will be scary. IMHO, the biggest realistic threat to our Western crown is the Spurs. Bowen’s slowed down, but we all know Manu can be as unstoppable as Kobe when he’s on. If that ankle’s better, plus the emergence of Roger Mason (Michael Finley, only good), they will give us fits.

    Bill Simmons has churned out some garbage over the years, but here’s an article I found highly interesting:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?section=magazine&id=3797805

  25. Business is business, but i’d hate to see us actively shop Lamar, be it here or in the real world.

    Anyway, all the more reason to enjoy this season. We won’t be enjoying this much depth for a long time.

  26. 21- That is a great point. If you think LO will be traded or allowed to walk because the team doesn’t think he will get them over the top, that is a fair point. If you think LO is gone strictly because of a numbers game, you are speculating, and going against all known public info. Tim Lieweke, who pulls the purse strings for AEG, has already said that AEG will not hesitate to bring the team back if Dr. Buss wants to do such. Lieweke and the Lakers have so much tied to the teams success that LO’s contract demands (which the market will ensure are not too outrageous) will not hinder the team from resigning him if they want to.

  27. All of the talk about trading LO this year for something in the future doens’t make sense. The future is now for the Lakers and they need to do everything they can to win this year. And that means keeping LO as this tema could still get better as everyone gets used to eahc other. Remember Pau and Drew are still new to each other and will get better.

    After this season it is not so clear that LO will get some huge deal from another team. No one in the 2010 hunt for LeBron, Wade or Bosh will grab a large contract for a role player and many teams may be gun shy due to the bad economy. If he doesn’t re-up with the Lakers he will get less than max form someone else.

    While I was on the off season ship of using LO in the 4-5 rotation with Pau and Bynum (and think it is working well so far) I would still like to see a few minutes here or there of LO at 3 going really big with Kobe, Trev, Pau and Bynum. Not sustainable for long stretchs becasue of lack of shooting, but pleanty of O for short periods and thsi could give some teams problems.

  28. Thanks for the LO observations, Kurt. I’ve been down on him for a while, and was loudly calling for him to be traded for RonRon this past summer. His offensive inconsistency still frightens and baffles me. (Whenever he hits a pressure free-throw, I feel like I just won the lottery.) But the intangibles you brought to light are huge for this team. I actually think he might stick around the Lakers for a sizeable pay cut based on several comments I’ve heard from him over the last couple of years.

  29. Agree with all of the stated above (mostly). We should just wait until the end of the season and see if we can make it with this current roster. And regardless of achieving it or not, if LO could be re-signed for a little less than what he’s getting right now, we should sign him. If he chooses to leave, we should wish him the best of luck and be glad that such a classy guy was part of the Lakers.

    One thing I’ve seen so far… LO backs up every teammate, both on court and off court.

  30. I agree with P.Ami about KG.

    As for T-Mac, he’s a chump. Sure, he’s talented, and when he’s on, he’s Kobe-Lite hot. On the flip side, when he’s off, he’s INVISIBLE. You can’t tell he’s on the floor, and you ask yourself if he’s hurt again. You can’t be that much of non-factor in a game when you are a supposed superstar. That’s why his teams have failed, and now he’s hurt more often then ever in his career.

    I’ve yet to see Houston play the level of defense that we all thought they might have been capable of. Maybe I’m wrong. It’s still early.

  31. All I’ll say is with the amount of money Buss charges for tickets (or so I’ve heard), he should be willing to go far over the cap to re-sign any necessary players.

  32. Great post, Kurt. This is the kind of analysis that really makes this site for me. Nobody else in the media is likely to sit down and analyze a game this way, but its absolutely invaluable to understand the game.

    I’ve always loved Odom’s game. I understand some of the frustration ppeople have expressed with him (especially when he was the second best player on the team), but I think people have always been too hard. His willingness to sacrifice and do whatever is asked of him has never been properly appreciated.

    In fact, much of the discussion about the Lakers’ ability to keep him next year rings this up. Its a contract year for this man. And how does he react to being asked to come off the bench? He does everything the team needs that doesn’t show up in the box score (to the extent we need someone to watch a full game of only him just to explain how he’s helping).

    The man is losing money by playing like this. But unlike the common cliche of the entitled athlete, he’s embracing his role and thriving in it. Whether he stays with the team or not, I will always appreciate Lamar as one of the great Lakers I’ve had the pleasure of watching.

  33. the other Stephen December 30, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    i’m so glad for deke. i’ve always respected the rockets’ franchise, and would have been sad to see him sign with the stupid celtics.

  34. Off the topic, but it was really hilarious when Blazers put 6 guys on the floor against the Celtics and scored on them and referees counted it.

    I love this game!

  35. Donnie Marshall (Celtics color commentator) just made comment about LaMarcus Aldridge being 6’11″ and being scoreless in the paint so far. Wow. Kind of like…..KG?

  36. I guess even the biggest busts can look good in Clippers uniform sometimes. Paul Davis is having a career day!

  37. Portland is throwing Pryzbilla and Oden on Boston’s 2nd unit with Powe and Davis. Ouch.

  38. Looking at Boston-Portland game, I do not think Celtics can pass the Cavs this year unless they find a skilled big man who can defend the paint and rebound. I am glad Mutombo went to Houston

  39. 32

    Did you see Portland score with 6 players on the court? If all you get is a technical I think more teams should try out this strategy from time to time…

    Regarding Odom, I said before the season that I thought he would be traded – unless the Lakers were thriving with him accepting his role as 6th man. Well that is exactly what is happening now. It’s hard to think of a trade that will replace all of Odom’s skills, to say nothing of his presence in the locker room and experience in the triangle.

    As frustrating as Odom can be it doesn’t seem like moving him at this point would be a good idea. If he leaves in the offseason, so be it, and there’s always the hope that he will accept a reduced salary and role to be a part of a great (championship?) team for the rest of his career.

  40. who do you think will come out with the win celtics or trail blazers?

    trail blazers fouling too much though

  41. Looks like the Trailblazers with :59 left…

  42. the blazers are kind of tough to beat if they’ve got a lead going into the 4th. they eat up a lot of clock and they rebound well.

  43. OH! Outlaw posterizes Garnett to put Portland up 4 with :29 left!

  44. Pierce comes back with the 3 point play with 22 left. Great game.

  45. Aldridge and KG getting into it…

  46. Ah.. it’s over. Loss no. 5 for the Celtics… now we’re on even ground with the Cavs and Celts, loss-wise anyway

  47. Yes! No team has fewer than 5 losses now, if I’m not mistaken.

  48. J.D. – you are not mistaken!!

  49. the other Stephen December 30, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    go blazers. this is the league’s way of saying, “f you, celtics.”

    30. i cracked up at that too.

  50. now lakers cant lose on the road!! finally losses evened out between the cavs, celtics, and us

  51. ……. and they call the celtics clutch

  52. Regarding that counted basket when the Blazers were playing 6 on 5, did the game officials ever take it back?

    Just wondering if the Celts would be using that as another reason for their loss and start crying murder again

  53. Celtics, Cavs and Spurs all take losses … not a bad night for the Lakers, despite the fact that they didn’t even set foot on a basketball court.

  54. 47. The basket was counted, and Blazers were whistled for a technical foul which Ray Allen (I think) converted. So they scored +1 :)

  55. Hey Kurt,

    Can you tell me why some of my posts always show up as “Your comment is awaiting moderation”? Is it related to some problems with the site or something in particular to my contribution to the post?

    Cheers

  56. Yea, It is huge that both the Celtics and the Cavs lost tonight. I know its early in the season but, I want the Lakers to have the opportunity to get home court advantage all through out the playoffs. Boston and the Cavs are a combined 33-1 at home…thats why its important we can gain that home court advantage.

  57. this blazers-celts matchup was also a battle of the worst announce teams ever.

  58. 55. As to why comments are held for moderation:

    There are filters on this site to prevent comment spam. There are about 50-100 comments a day that get filtered out of the comments on this site because they are attempting to sell viagra or whatever. There are a couple levels of filters, one triggers that a comment is held for moderation because certain words or phrases are used. Those words are potentially innocent, but get used in online ads. The easiest example is “poker.” Certainly a word you could use with Jerry Buss, but because some online poker sites try to use spam comments to advertise, if you use that word I have to approve the comment.

    In a nutshell, that is what happens. There are hundreds of words on the list. It’s not personal, and I approve comments as fast as I can. But sometimes I’m just away from the computer.

  59. anyone had a chance to read this article yet on mihm

    http://www.dailynews.com/ci_11326918?source=rss

  60. I have to say that this 1-3 Celtics road trip has calmed me down even more then the Lakers win against the C’s did. I, admittedly, was getting frustrated with the men in FB&G (the unis not the website) and watching the C’s look passionate and dominant for the last month or so was alarming. Now, not so much.

    Great points about LO. Gives me something extra to keep an eye out for during the games. I hope the Lakers keep Odom for the year and then roll the dice on keeping him at a reduce salary. I don’t think there are allot of guys who would take less money to be a part of something special but Odom is in a strange place. His contributions aren’t the kind that get the big money contracts. Nobody thinks they are going to turn LO into a franchise centerpiece (unless its D’Antoni. I think Simmons made some very relevant points about that coach and that system. He might have gotten more material for his point if he had mentioned Marion’s drop off since being traded to Miami) and the Lakers are known for taking care of their players. I would not be very surprised if LO were a Laker next season.

  61. 59 – Thanks. That just sounds like a guy that doesn’t want to move. Can’t fault him that.

    Basketballwise, Lue is just garbage. He had a couple of productive seasons after he left us ala Lindsey Hunter. No big deal. He wasn’t great here then, he would be terrible this time. We should keep Mihm, he’s a good insurance big if Gasol or Bynum goes down.

  62. In that recent interview that Kobe did with Magic he was asked how he evolved into a player that trusted his teammates last season. He started to talk about having a better team with better players. The first player that Kobe mentioned was Gasol. No suprise there. But in his next sentence, he said that other guys were now “ready” and they took that next step mentally and were prepared to go win the game with him. He mentioned Lamar first in that category.

    I think we all need to understand that LO, while often criticized for making the “boneheaded” play, so often does the right thing on the court. He moves where he should, he reads the defense when passing, and makes a lot of high IQ basketball plays every game. Plays that show up because he has the ball or finishes, but so many others that you only notice if you’re watching the the game the way that Kurt did for this post.

    Also, I should say that so many have complained about LO *taking* the jumper, but I praise him for taking those shots about 75% of the time that he shoots them. Why? Because within this offense, those open shots on the wing are the shots that he *should* take, when he’s open and the shots are in rhythm. I think it’s kinda funny that Luke never gets any flack from any of us when he takes an open jumper, but LO does, and Luke is no better a jumpshooter than Odom. I like the fact that Odom is no longer hesitating and looking for the non-existant driving angle rather than taking the open 17 footer. He can make that shot…I mean, I know that LO has still picked up charges this year, but last year he’d pick up (seemingly) one a game. It’s not like that this year; more often this year than last year, he’s making the better (personal) decision when he wants to attack and be aggressive offensively.

    Anyways, everyone knows I love LO. I hope he’s here for the rest of this season and beyond. Veteran coaches know this guys value. I guarantee you that there’s a reason that Riles loved this guy, there’s a reason that SVG loved this guy, there’s a reason that during the Olympics Larry Brown always started and loved this guy, and there’s a reason that Phil continuously goes back to him and closes games with him. He knows how to play this game.

  63. In fact Darius, I think that if Lamar can develope a good rhythm on the 17 footer and hit it consistently, then the Lakers win the title this year. There will be no defending this team.

    Boston, as their roster currently stands, does not have enough firepower outside the big 4 (Rondo needs to be included now). The Laker and Blazer wins over the Celtics were revealing: The Celtics can hold you to 90, but in a grind it out game, if you play good defense, they have a hard time breaking 85.

    This means that’s Boston’s concept, a grind it out style based on great defense, is somewhat flawed in execution because it is dependent on playing their big guns heavy minutes and there is a lack of bench scoring.

    Too early to say if the LA and Portland games are part of a trend where the league is figuring out the Celtics, but definite flaws are being revealed.

  64. 62 – Darius, I like your conviction, but why is such a defense even necessary for Odom? Kobe has to say that stuff, he can’t say anything negative for a national tv interview. Odom has basically underachieved his entire career. His best year was easily in 03-04 with Miami.

    He simply hasn’t come through for the Lakers in any pressure situation. People like his versatility, I do too, but at some point great players convert all that potential into something, namely big game situations. Good or mediocre players are inconsistent and can wow you in the regular season. For me, last year’s run definitively proves the type of player he is. Maybe another chance in the playoffs will change that, but I very much doubt it.

    He’s the definition of “teaser”. That’s fine if you have others on the roster to cover for that, this team doesn’t. That’s why PJ goes to him, he doesn’t have another choice.

  65. 64-Lamar had a great run from February through the Finals, and actually played quite well in the playoffs. I wouldn’t use the Finals as an indication of his ability to play in big games.

  66. (64) Clutch,

    I have to agree with #65 (Kwame). LO gets an unfair rap. If you were to swap him for a player like Shawn Marion, you’d wish we had LO back faster than Sasha throws up a 3 pointer.

  67. 65 & 66 – Who said anything about Marion? Marion would never fit in here, but my comment wasn’t about trades. It was about him being a teaser and why must Laker fans continue to apologize for him.

    Kwame, that’s my point. You’re mention Feb – Apr. I’m talking about May on and I didn’t see him make an impact when needed. With the favorable seeding against Denver and Utah, an impact from LO wasn’t needed against them. Denver couldn’t guard a paper bag and Utah couldn’t guard Kobe. Against the Spurs, Odom could’ve helped the games they played poor, but he didn’t show up. That wasn’t apparent since Kobe basically won games 1 & 5 by himself. As you said, the Finals games speak for themselves.

  68. Odom has pretty good playoff stats…

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/o/odomla01.html

    But again, as many have pointed out, that still doesn’t tell the whole story. It’ll be impossible to replace Odom’s ball handling, defense and rebounding with one single player. We should enjoy (likely) the last year he’s in a Laker uniform.

  69. Clutch824,

    I know you didn’t bring up Marion. I was only making a point. He’s a player some commenter here used to bring up a lot, so I just used him 1st.

  70. inwit,
    “I think that if Lamar can develope a good rhythm on the 17 footer and hit it consistently”

    If he was interested in doing that, he would have worked on it over the summer.

  71. Clutch,
    My point is that Kobe didn’t have to mention Lamar at all. He could have said that Farmar made the leap or that the veteran steadiness of Fisher was a major key. Or that Bynum’s early season growth showed him that the team was ready to shoulder more of the burden that he (Kobe) had shouldered in prior seasons. So while you’re saying “Kobe isn’t going to say anything negative”, I think he also doesn’t need to give out false praise, either.

    Also, you say that this team isn’t good enough to cover up for LO’s inconsistencies, and I say that without LO, this team isn’t versataile or skilled enough to beat the teams it needs to in order to advance. Do you actually think we beat Utah in last year’s playoffs without Odom using his quickness to limit Okur on the perimeter or his combination of strength and length to fight Boozer inside and bother his interior scoring? Do you think Powell or Marion defend both those guys as well AND provide the ability to create off the dribble to destroy that frontcourt with dribble penetration and playmaking in the halfcourt and the ability to rebound and lead the break in the open court?

    I understand LO’s limitations. However, those are not fatal flaws for this team and his strengths and what he adds are more than his weaknesses and what he takes away from this team. If anyone wants to disagree, that’s fine. But I’d really like for anyone that doesn’t think Odom is a real asset to this team to just tell me how we’d really win without him. Who on this roster would replace his skill set and do the little things that Kurt points out in his post that directly help us win games? And if you say “well there are other players that have that skill set that could play for us”…okay, who? Who would provide everything that LO does, not complain, be a great teammate, take a leadership role, all while playing hard? I think I know this league pretty well and I’m having trouble finding one guy.

  72. 69 – I know, wondahbap. I just wanted to be clear I wasn’t particularly talking about who he should be traded for.

    And I wasn’t trying to go “bash Odom” time. My thing is, it seems very clear he doesn’t have that thing, whatever it is, in his makeup. Kinda like the Lakers Eddie Jones. Or questionably, Yao Ming now (one reason I’m not worried about Houston). Hopefully, he can prove me wrong this postseason.

  73. Sorry for the double. Fair points, Darius. Like I said, I hope he proves me wrong.

  74. exhelodrvr,

    True, Lamar had to know this off season that spreading the defense by outside shooting, with Gasol and Bynum in the lineup, was crucial, especially after defenses sagged off him in the playoffs. No excuse not to work hard on it.

    However, if he is determined to take the open shot and is ready to shoot even before he gets the ball, with early preparation on his rhythm and balance, and finally, shoots with confidence and without hestiation, he is fully capable of being an effective mid-range shooter. Too many times he gets passed the ball and is not ready to shoot, he then looks for a cutter or takes a dribble and then takes the shot as a last resort. Contrast this with Sasha’s approach – when the ball gets to him he is ready to let it fly. Granted he will never shoot like Sasha, but given how often Lamar is open for those shots, he could be much better than he is now.

  75. Sorry, but I wanted to add that Odom killed Utah. He killed them. Look at his numbers. And if you don’t like numbers, that’s fine. Just go back and re-watch the games. Odom’s ability to outquick their frontcourt while still having the length and strength to play inside against their “bruisers” was just as big a factor as Kobe in that series.

    To imply that Odom disappeared in the playoffs is no where close to being accurate. And if we actually bring up the Finals again, when Odom was playing against the Defensive Player of the Year and one of the better defenders of this generation, I don’t know what say. It’s like saying a defender is not very strong because he can’t slow Kobe down…I don’t buy the logic.

  76. Odom will never be a good jumpshooter. In Clipper, in Heat, in Lakers his jumpshoot eFG% was in .350-.400 area.

    Walton is even worse (below .300), but what’s interesting – above 90% of Walton’s jumpers are assisted. It means he shoots when the offesne dictate it. Odom is more a free shooter – only 75% of his jumpers are assisted.

    What does it mean? Odom should probably jumpshoot even less.

  77. inwit,
    “Too many times he gets passed the ball and is not ready to shoot”

    Which highlights his other problem – inconsistent focus.

    That and his work ethic is all but certain not going to change at this point in his career.

    So for the team/fans to base plans/hopes on those facets of his game/approach to change is foolhardy.

  78. 78. Not all of us expect him to change, he is what he is. But what he is is very good, with a diverse skill set that is hard to replicate even with a couple of players.

  79. the celtics lost their 6th man last year and look how their bench is doing,
    hopefully the lakers will be reluctant to trade odom because of how its affected the C’s… he is our 6th man after all

  80. I have to say I am weary of people saying that ‘player X’ doesn’t have ‘it’ Who does? L.O. is an extremely skilled player and as has been pointed out – we will not replace his skill set with another single player.

    We made it to the finals last year with Odom – beat Denver like a drum, beat Utah and then San Antonio.

    A couple years ago we played Phoenix to within one rebound of an upset – and LO was the only other player (Kobe) we had.

    LO has his faults and he is not going to be ‘the man’ and take over games -just like Pau is never going to be a bruiser down low. Does Pau not have ‘it’ either.
    KG never had ‘it’ in Minn. But now he does?

    LO is a great player with a unique skill set and as others have posted – let’s enjoy his game while we can. I hope he comes back – but I know the money is going to be an issue.

  81. I don’t think we should insinuate anything about LO’s work ethic. Just because we would like him to work on something and he apparently hasn’t 1) consulted us and 2) followed through on what we want doesn’t mean he doesn’t work on his game.

    If you want to compare his work ethic to Kobe’s then I think it is the same thing as saying he didn’t do well against KG in the finals – not a fair comparison.

    LO is what he is – and that is very good, if not as spectacular and dominant as we might like – but that doesn’t reflect what his work habits are.

  82. To be honest, I think the main reason why some of the Laker fans want to trade LO is his contract. It is 1) large enough to get back couple of decent youngs and is also 2) expiring making teams more likely to be interested in a trade with us.

    By including LO in any equation, the number of trade possibilities grows even larger. Lakers fans understand that Kobe, Gasol and Odom are our best players and in that order. But Kobe and Gasol are “untouchable” in our opinion leaving LO as the only choice to consider when fantasizing about trades.

    FANTASY BASKETBALL KILLS REAL BASKETBALL IN SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS

  83. 76 – Darius, what bruisers did they have, Okur and Boozer? The only bruiser that team has is Harpring and half the time Sloan had him on Kobe. There was zero pressure for Odom to produce in those 1st 2 rounds. Odom gets no special credit for that series. And now he gets a Finals pass for playing against the DPOY? Really? The Celtics didn’t even seem like they game planned specifically for Odom. We’ll have to agree to disagree about this guy.

    81 – You bring up all kinds of stuff asking does KG and Pau have “it”. Matter of fact, I won’t go there. I will say they both have some similar playoffs histories, except that one has a championship to validate his career.

  84. “Said official Mike Callahan: “If we would have caught the six men on the court before the made goal, then there would have been no score. We woould have called a technical foul on Portland and stopped play. After the technical foul shot (by Boston), Portland wold have inbounded the ball as they were in possession before the stoppage.”

    on the whole 6th man on the floor of the trail blazers game

    article:
    http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/basketball/celtics/view/2008_12_31_Celtics_finish_road_trip___08_with_loss_in_Portland:_A_blaze_of_gory_for_Celtics/

  85. I think the discussion about Odom’s clutchness has a lot to do with the vagueness of that term. There’s clutch meaning “hitting key shots at the end of games,” but then there’s also “Production during the playoffs” or even more generally “producing when it matters.”

    Odom has had some mistakes at the ends of games. He’ll miss the free throws or commit an offensive foul, for instance. But in both those instances I almost feel like he makes the mistakes by trying too hard to address peoples’ problems. “I have to be aggressive now!” turns into the charge. “I can’t miss this!” turns into the missed FT.

    But by the other definitions I think he comes through. Odom had amazing numbers in the unfortunate series against the Suns in 07. Unfortunately Kobe was the only other guy who could claim that. I don’t think he had any unfrotunate moments in the playoffs before the finals, and actually came up big at key points before then.

    Otherwise Odom has played bigger when the team has generally needed him to (When Kobe’s out or other injuries necessitate it). He has played through injuries (shoulder injury for half a year a few seasons ago). He has always been one of the few guys to devote himself completely to rebounding.

    I just think a lot of Odom analysis comes down to this- do you bemoan him not being what you wish he would be or do you just appreciate what he is. I understand the former stance because of his salary and inborn talent, but I hope people don’t let it overshadow the latter perspective.

  86. Clutch, are you saying you don’t think Utah is physical? That Boozer doesn’t bang inside? that the first two rounds of the playoffs don’t matter?

    Don’t let your dislike of Odom obscure logic.

  87. Clutch,
    That’s fine, we can agree to disagree. However, I find it odd that you are willing to say that the only series that matter are the ones that you think matter and that because you say there was no pressure to win the first two rounds that Odom’s accomplishments are diminished. I mean, last time I looked, the Jazz were a very good team and a threat to win it all. And the Lakers made them look like they were no where near that level. Most of that was on the shoulders of Kobe and Odom.

    Also, as for bruisers…Yes Boozer. And Yes to Milsap too. Those guys thrive on interior play. And while Boozer also has a reliable mid-range game, that ended up being his only plan of attack as both Odom (and Gasol’s when he saw time on him) length bothered him inside and took away his strength, which is finishing inside on both dives from the P&R (where Odom’s quickness to hedge and recover rendered Boozer almost useless in those sets) and on straight post ups where Boozer loves to body you and then go left and finish through you (but Odom did a good job of neautralizing that as well by playing strong and contesting his inside shots with his length). Also Millsap is a bully underneath that, while undersized, loves to body you and then finish at the basket. Odom used his strength and length to take that away, especially since, if you recall Milsap got a ton of PT because Boozer (like Fisher) got in foul trouble in several games in that series.

    Like I said, we can agree to disagree. But please don’t say “x matters, but y doesn’t” when it all matters. Last time I checked if we don’t win those rounds we don’t advance. Odom played a major role in that. And sorry to go on and on, but yes it matters that Odom was matched up against the DPOY and one of the best defenders of our generation. Just like when Phil would put Pippen on players to neutralize them. When you play against a premeir defender, your numbers *should* suffer. Last time I checked, only the greatest of the greats can beat the best consistently…are you saying that LO is at that level and should dominate even against the likes of KG? Or Duncan? If so, that’s where you lose me. Odom is what he is, but he’s not that. He’s key to our team, but he’s not Kobe. So, no one gets a *pass* but in any game or series there are going to be factors that determine success or falling short. Odom should be judged fairly, not with some arbitrary set of guidelines that are put forth to make him look worse than what he truly is.

  88. Clutch,

    Harpring isn’t a bruiser, he’s a moronic hack. He makes himself look foolish trying to play physical with Kobe, who is too fast, too big, too strong, and too talented for his pathetic attempts.

  89. Also, this LO conversation has once again become boring and redundant.

  90. 82)craig w,
    “I don’t think we should insinuate anything about LO’s work ethic. Just because we would like him to work on something and he apparently hasn’t 1) consulted us and 2) followed through on what we want doesn’t mean he doesn’t work on his game.

    If you want to compare his work ethic to Kobe’s then I think it is the same thing as saying he didn’t do well against KG in the finals – not a fair comparison.”

    First of all, Lamar has admitted that he didn’t work on his game this past summer.

    When a player has weaknesses that can be addressed by them working on those weaknesses, and the player doesn’t, then it is reasonable to criticize them. Those same weaknesses have been there since he joined the Lakers. Had he chosen to work on other aspects of his game than what my personal preference was, I wouldn’t complain about his work ethic.

    The same logic applies to criticism aimed at Shaq when he would habitually some into camp out-of-shape; it is valid for fans to be critical.

  91. 79) Kurt,
    I don’t want to trade Odom mid-season; Bynum and Ariza are still too inconsistent, and it would throw off the rotations/chemistry too much to do it at this point of the season.

    “Not all of us expect him to change”
    No; my post was aimed at those who do. And a lot of his “unique skill set” and “very good”ness is offset by his
    weakpoints/inconsistency. I think that modest improvements by Bynum and Ariza, and increased familiarity with the system/players by Powell, will make Lamar expendable, unless he is willing to take a significant pay cut. (Perhaps down to 10M per year?)

  92. My problem with LO is his inability to use or develop his right hand.

  93. Are we really using the Finals as a referendum on Odom’s performance in the playoffs? Remind me, who on the Lakers played well against Boston in June? If you’re going to base everything on that series, might as well blow the team up and create cap space for 2010.

    To say Odom ‘never made an impact when needed’ is so unfair, and I am not an Odom fan. The Lakers played 3 50-win teams to get to the Finals, and Odom played his part in all of those series. Not to mention he generally stepped up his game against Phoenix the previous 2 years. I have seen Allstars completely disappear in the playoffs (Peja and Marion come to mind) and Odom doesn’t deserve that label in my opinion.

  94. Anybody who thinks Odom will not be signed for a max contract of 16 mil is kidding themselves:

    1.) Rashard Lewis got some 120 million dollars to be the third wheel on a playoff team.
    2.) Wally Sczerbiak makes 13 million dollars this year.
    3.) Zach Randolph makes 14 million dollars this year.
    4.) Marko Jaric makes 7 mil a year to rot for the next 3 years.

    Some team will pay Odom a max contract; it’s all a matter of whether he takes it or not. The Lakers cannot resign Odom for his current salary; the new contract for Bynum and pending extension to Ariza prevent that (they will not be willing to pay that much more tax). Odom makes 11.4 mil this year, he will have to give up 16 mil per year to sign a 8-9 mil per year contract to stay with the Lakers (if not lower). Not to belittle anyone’s math skills, but that’s at least 7 million dollars he’s leaving on the table PER YEAR. Memphis, New Jersey, and Minnesota are three teams with a buttload of cap space next year who all could use a big (especially one of Odom’s caliber).

    Otherwise, I would love to keep Odom. I think he fits our system perfectly, is the best complement to Gasol and Bynum we could ever have, and has the skillset that makes him a natural in the triangle. The best action the front office can take, IMO, is to let this season play itself out, then either let Odom go or do a sign-and-trade. But, I believe it is inevitable that Odom will not return after this year.

  95. It seems to me that while Odom does many things very well, he is not excellent in any one way. This is a unique scenario, because for any given skill he may not be the best on the team, and thus does not get noticed.

  96. exhelodrvr,
    Odom is currently making about $11M. The $14M is because of an up front payment that had to be averaged over the life of the contract for salary cap purposes. $10M wouldn’t be much of a cut. Many of us are talking about $7-9M and that may be out of Lamar’s expectations.

    Incidentally, for all you who want to trade LO because we will lose him for nothing in the summer. That is exactly why we will probably keep him. Bringing back ANY salary that extends longer than this year would make it harder to sign Ariza or Farmar for next year. That is one of the main issues – besides team chemistry – why many of us think Lamar is not going to be traded this year, p-e-r-i-o-d.

  97. Zephid (#96) – I won’t make any prediction as to what kind of contract offers Lamar will or won’t be offered this off-season, but the examples you listed don’t take into account the changing financial landscape of the NBA. In my option, the players you listed earned (or, if you prefer, “earned”) those gaudy salaries by either putting up inflated numbers or were overvalued for their perceived potential … LO is not going to have the stats on his side because of his role for us this season, and at 29 is probably past the point where he’s still considered to have much untapped upside. More importantly, the bad economy means fewer owners than ever will be willing to pay the luxury tax (at least for non-superstar acquisitions). Most of all, teams that DO have the salary cap space are all hoarding it for 2010.

  98. 99

    I completely agree. For all the reasons you listed, I don’t see Odom being offered a whole lot more than the MLE by another team. Something like $8M a year or thereabouts would be my guess.

  99. It’s hard to predict the economic situation at the end of the year, but the Rashard Lewis example is apt. There’s always going to be a big free agent every year that gets a ridiculous contract because they’ve been grossly overestimated. Posey was the prime example of this during the off-season, and part of that was the championship glitter that he had, which is another factor that contributes to these hyped-up contracts.

    Now, this certainly could not be the case for Odom, but we should take it into consideration. I agree with not trading him and seeing what he’ll do at the end of the season (stays for less, sign-and-trade, or simply walks), but he’s not the holy grail. It’s why for all the noise Cleveland is making about team chemistry and not trading Wally, the reality is that Wally can land a Carter, Jamison, Redd, or another big-name player that would catapult Cleveland to the next level. The situation is slightly different for us, as Odom is better than Wally, but we should keep an open mind as to what we can get for him (Wallace + Felton, Prince, or similar) that can prove equally valuable.

  100. about odom’s new contract, i would say it’s still possible to pay him around 10mil next year…

    i would expect kobe to opt out of his current contract and resign for less (just like tim duncan did a few years back)…

    although i can only see this happening if we win this year championship…(to show kobe that we’re gonna win again the next year if we keep the same team)