Press 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.”