As Goes Lamar Odom…

On June 16, 2009, in a blog entitled “Dynasty for Sale or Rent,” I wrote, “Maybe beating Orlando was the easy part. The hard part might be bringing the band back together next year.”

I may have jinxed the Lakers because since then Trevor Ariza left the Lakers for the most incomprehensible of reasons, and now, things seem to have fallen apart with Lamar Odom.

It’s amazing how many parrots accuse Kobe Bryant of being selfish while completely overlooking Lamar Odom’s LONG history of self-serving and very bad judgment — a history of bad decisions that goes very far beyond candy bing eating.


Lamar Odom played for 3 different high schools, not because his family was moving, but he dumped teams in perceived furtherance of his basketball career.


Lamar Odom started off at UNLV taking classes in the summer. Unfortunately, he was also taking money. Odom received payments amounting to $5,600 from UNLV booster David Chapman. That, and the academic scandal that also ensued got UNLV coach Bill Bayno fired, and got UNLV placed on probation by the NCAA for 4 years. UNLV’s storied basketball program never really recovered from the mess Lamar left it, and left it he did… for the University of Rhode Island.

In the wake of his scorched earth, after sitting out a year, Lamar played just 1 season for Rhode Island and then ditched them after his freshman year for a career in the NBA.


Drafted 4th overall in the 1999 NBA draft, Lamar’s career started with L.A.’s other NBA team, the Clippers, where he showed much promise and made 2000 NBA All-Rookie First Team. A year later, in Novemeber of 2001, Odom was suspended for having been caught in his SECOND violation of the NBA’s drug policy.


Odom played 1 year for the Miami Heat, along side rookie Dwayne Wade, before finding himself in Los Angeles once again, being one of 3 players traded by the Heat for Shaquille O’Neal.

Interestingly, Odom never sold his house in Miami; he still owns it.


With the Lakers, Lamar Odom has been a mixed blessing. On the one hand, his skills, particulary for his size, made him one of the most versitile players in the NBA. On the other hand, Odom’s decision making can be quite horrible.

And Odom has shown a tendency to vanish in big games, particularly in the playoffs.

In the 2006 playoffs, the Lakers gave up a 3-1 series lead to the Suns in large part to Odom going M.I.A. In fact, in critical game 7, in 42 minutes of play, Odom’s line was 12 points, 37% shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 assists.

In the 2007 playoffs, Odom, then the Lakers #2 option, vanished again (10 points in game 2 on 33% shooting), and the Lakers lost to the Suns in 5 games.

And in the 2008 NBA Finals, when the favored Lakers fell to Danny Ainge’s all star team, Pau Gasol took much of the heat for the Lakers “being soft,” but power forward Lamar Odom’s numbers for the series were well below his regular season performance.

That’s not to say Lamar Odom hasn’t shown tremendous promise though. Odom’s 28 points, 17 rebounds and 2 assists in a rare defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland this last season shows why the Lakers are high on Odom.

Or at least they were.


Dr. Jerry Buss, owner of the Lakers, recently asked Mitch Kupcheck to withdraw the Lakers’ offer to retain Odom.

The Lakers had been offering Odom a deal for $9 million a season for 4 years at $36 million, or $10 million a season for 3 years for a total of $30 million.

Odom is reportedly holding out for a 5-year, $50 million deal.

I guess I’ve always felt that Odom has been overpaid pretty much his entire career.

Specifically, Odom has been paid (I won’t write “earned”) over $69 million 9 seasons playing in the NBA, or in other words, Lamar Odom has averaged $7.7 million per year.

Odom’s 1999 draft classmate Manu Ginobli has averaged $5.6 million per year over the course of his career.

As one of San Antonio’s “big three,” Manu has been a CRITICAL component of 3 NBA championships for the Spurs. What is more, Ginobli shows his team first mentality by coming off the bench or starting — whatever Pop wants — without a peep.

By contrast, Odom has been an inconsistent flake his entire career. In fact, much of the infuriating inconsistency the Lakers have shown is directly attributable to Lamar Odom.


As NBA announcers Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy were saying as they called the 2009 playoffs, “As goes Lamar Odom, so go the Lakers.”

Lamar’s problem is he has been paid primarily on potential, not production. If you look at potential, I can see why Lamar is demanding what he is.

But if you look at consistent production, Manu Ginobli gives his employer far greater bang for the buck than Lamar Odom ever has.

If Odom really feels like $10 million a year for 3 years is beneath him, then perhaps he ought to refund the Clippers, Heat and Lakers the money he didn’t actually EARN in previous years, THEN from a position of equal footing, start making his demands of the Lakers.

It’s time for Odom to grow up and start giving back.

Odom isn’t in demand because he’s earned everyone’s respect over the years, but because there is no one else available with that skill set at his height at the current time.

I’m with Buss on this one.

Odom can eat some humble pie and redeem himself by “settling” for $36 million, or he can walk and prove himself the donkey we’ve so often seen from him in his checkered basketball career.


I don’t think Lamar Odom will be a Laker next season. Just as Ariza walked for no comprehensible reason, it looks as if Odom will be gone for no reason a reasonable person could believe.

Miami looks like a possibility, even for less money. Odom still has a house there, and the Heat have a place for Odom that isn’t on the bench when its tipoff time.

Everyone talks about the Blazers, especially now that Millsap is staying with the Jazz, but the Blazers haven’t seemed interested. Yet.

And now noise is coming from San Antonio.

Even if Odom doesn’t go to the Spurs though, the Spurs’ championship aspirations for the 2010 may well rest in Lamar’s hands.

For as goes Lamar Odom, so go the Lakers.

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