Forum Blue & Gold: 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.

  • Ron

    All true…LO cant be replaces for his versatility. He’s a beast when he’s head is on the right way.

    That being said if hes ready to sign for 8-9 mil a year i say keep him…and if we can do that im sure he wont mind coming off the bench…hes a team player and his issue is just his contract this year.

    on the other front…Marion for Odom wont be bad…Marion can flat out give other SF’s fits…

    LBJ will have to think about his man more…pierce cant think about moving in slo mo…its just an asset…hes a proven all star who brings alot of things to the team…

    Yes everyone knows Odom owned Marion when we played the suns…but Marion played PF for the suns…he was out of place…

    Marion wont get top dollar…if the lakers can agree to extend him for 8-9 mil a year and he agrees trade for marion…

    Also i’d like to point out that Pau and bynum are running out their kinks…they are going to be beastly…imagine marion with us…Pau, Marion on the fast break…alot of dunks

  • Diehardfan

    Everytime someone who is AGAINST trading Odom has this “wait and see” mentality. As Laker fans we are tired of hoping and waiting for Lamar. Everyone seems to forget that Kobe’s years are wasting away while we wait for Lamar to come around. Also, for those of you who believe that he is having issues due to the sad loss of his child, then tell me this, What is the reasoning for his lack of consistency before then? I will be the first to admit that Odom has skills. He can be a top five PF in the NBA. But that is only when he is consistent. When he shows up he could easily be the 2nd best player behind Kobe on the court. Maybe it’s the offensive system that he has trouble with who knows. What I do know is that I am tired of waiting and hoping that he comes around. I can think of many players who we can bring in who are making much less than he is and who can at least be more consistent. We need to stop hanging our hopes because we see flashes of brilliance from Odom on an inconsistent basis. Because, if he would been consistent in the Finals I guarantee we would of won the title. Is it worth risking losing another title for him?

  • potentialolympiakosfan

    guys…really? really??? come on

  • mr.laker19

    Before I start let me say that Odom is a unique talent, and he deserves a shot to show us what he can do with this line up in the regular system. But he is replaceable. I have a few problems with Odom and Ill name them all.

    Lack of intensity and focus

    Inconsistent scoring and defense

    Very questionable jump shot

    Doesn’t fit in with our best line up

    Attitude

    These things are mostly things that he could fix by himself, but he chooses not to. The one that he really cant change is him just not fitting in with Bynum, pau, Fish, and Kobe on the floor at the same time. I feel like Bynum and Pau will eventually figure it out in time because they have complementary skills that will help each other on the floor, they just have to figure that out yet.

    But Odom just doesn’t have the shooting and effort on defense to make us successful. Again, he could improve on these things in something we call the of season like other players, but he chooses other wise. My argument is there are better, younger players that can help us and complement us out there.

    Shawn Marion:He is older, but he has things that make him more valueable. One, expiring contract. His game also complements the other players games in our starting line up. He can shoot from the outside, decent passer, rebounds, and defends better than Odom. Plus, if he doesn’t work out, we can let him go next summer.

    Josh Smith: The future best Small Forward in the game. (behind LBJ of course). Blocks, rebounds, defends one on one, scores. He is better, younger version of Marcus Camby at the three.

    Tayshaun Prince: Game similar to Shawn Marion’s, but he is younger. Plus he knows how to share the wealth with a team full of super stars. Might be the ideal player for us as of right now.

    The one thing that all these guys share is that they bring it hard on the floor every night, in the playoffs too. And there is even more guys at the three but this is just my top three. So guys, with the right throw ins, we could improve, not lose, by getting rid of Odom. Just think about it.

  • Nabil

    Nice take. Agree about Marion or Prince. Preferably Prince. But let’s take another look at Josh Smith, from Hollinger:
    “if we include all 2-pointers that weren’t layups, only two players were worse than his 28.9 percent, and Smith had more than three times as many attempts as either of them.”
    He means only two players in THE ENTIRE NBA are worse shooters then Smith (amoung guys with at least 100 attempts)!!! And that he just keeps on firing them up. Hmm, I thought one of the main reasons for dropping Odom was his shaddy outside shot. Well, the lack of intensity, focus, and attitude that you cited is my biggest beef as well. But if we want to spread the floor, Smith ain’t the answer.
    Prince is solid. Doesn’t turn it over barely at all, and can hit that outside shot. And he’s a winner.

  • John Barry Sux

    SNL much? Really?