benchplayerPress Enterprise: How drastically things change over the course of 82 games. A season that began with Lamar Odom vexed at the possibility of not starting for the first time in his NBA career now nears the finish with the veteran forward lobbying to come off the bench.

Odom believes his leadership and playmaking ability can elevate the Lakers’ faltering second unit if Coach Phil Jackson opts to send him to the bench once injured center Andrew Bynum returns later this week.

“Whatever’s best for the team,” Odom said. “The second unit struggled a little bit toward the end of the year, and I would definitely like to take that challenge on and get them going again.”

Jackson hinted on Sunday that Bynum would rejoin the starting lineup as soon as he returns to action, making Odom the most likely candidate to come off the bench. There’s a chance Bynum could play Thursday against Denver, but the final decision won’t be made until the Lakers gauge his stamina in practice today.

Odom initially chafed at going to the bench because he felt it reduced his value on the free agent market this summer. He said that’s no longer as big of an issue now that he’s proven his worth as a starter, averaging 13.7 points and 10.9 rebounds since Bynum went down on Jan. 31.

“I was talking to my agent, Jeff Schwartz, and I said I wish Andrew had come back after the Cleveland game,” joked Odom, who had 28 points and 17 rebounds against the Cavs on Feb. 8. “I’d have the highest stock in the NBA.”

  • RoWyN

    best problem to have for any nba team

  • Makaveli3

    I love how odom, doesn’t care if he starts or not. He proved him self as a starter and he is willing to do pay cuts for the team in order to help the Lakers. That’s a true person. They make tons of money already why not get a pay cut to help the team? Cutting 1 mill wont kill them that much haha.

  • KingKobe24

    WHy cant we start Bynum, Pau, Odom, Kobe, and Fisher? wasnt that the plan at the end of last season? We all the sudden had the need to spread the floor with radmonivic and that really wasnt necessary nor did it work out! With the “we need to spread the floor” excuse gone, we have started ariza, which has been good, but we know ariza is goin to give us good production regardless of weather he starts or not, why not start odom at his true position? everyone wants to make him a for based on his height but odom grew up a point and small tall foward during his career, i say we give it a shot and dominate with size with our first 5 and speed with our subs, thats a contrast most teams in the NBA wished they had! Plus i like odoms production right now, i dont want to run the risk losing that.

  • sketch

    definitely recording tomorrow night’s game!

  • Mihailicious

    Looks to me like odom is thinking of shoppin himself around this summer, it would be a shame to lose him because he has such a big heart and he plays with passion.. but this is a business and people do what they need to do.. we’ll see if he takes a pay cut or takes lots of money to play on a scrub team like Sactown (the sacramento queens for those who are recent laker band wagon jumpers) or the pacers because they both lack big men

  • LakersFirst

    [Comment ID #67416 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Odom did say that he would take a pay cut to stay with the Lakers (how big of a cut, who knows). I think if the Lakers were to offer a long term deal of about $7M to $8 per season (remember the Lakers have Bird rights to him), then he might stay, and contend for championships season after season