Ariza, Odom, or Both? Who Stays With the Lake Show?

He's baaaaaaack! (ESPN)

Lamar Odom

Sorry Shannon Brown, but as much as we love your attitude and athleticism, you’re not the talk of the free agent market right now. Both Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom are extremely talented players who pose a serious problem for the Lakers this off-season because of their free-agency. Mitch Kupchak and Dr. Buss have an interesting little conundrum to deal with here. LakeShowLife.com breaks it down for you.

In the finals, both players played brilliantly and had equally important roles in the series:

PLAYER NAME GP MPG PTS FG% 3P% FT%
5 33.8 13.4 .542 .500 .688
5 37.6 11.0 .357 .417 .500

Ariza led all players in the Finals with 9 steals, and trailed only Kobe Bryant for the most steals in the playoffs this year. Playing roughly 75% of Bryant’s minutes, Ariza still managed to have 36 steals to Kobe’s 38. In the regular season, Ariza finished 3rd in steals per 48 minutes among players who played in 30+ games even though he had significantly less playing time than those players ranked above him.  And lest we forget that Ariza had a few of the biggest steals in playoff history this year as well.

Odom, on the other hand, was a rebounding machine. Lamar was in the top 20 for the regular season in rebounds for forwards despite playing less time than 17 of the 18 players above him. More importantly, he was in the top 15 (for Forwards) for offensive rebounding in a season that saw him frequently coming off the bench and playing less minutes than normal. Odom was third in rebounding in the finals to two all-star’s: his teammate Pau Gasol and Orlando’s Dwight Howard. He averaged only 1.5 rebounds less than Pau despite playing only 75% of the minutes that Gasol played.

Trevor Ariza

Trevor Ariza

Add all of that up and you have a very difficult decision to make.  The Lakers are already above the luxury tax limit without signing either Ariza or Odom (or Shannon Brown for that matter).  While Brown will likely be willing to take a lower salary because of his limited playing time, both Ariza and Odom were instrumental to the success of the 2008-9 championship team.  Keeping both would be ideal, of course, but that may mean a combined salary of well over $100 million next season when the luxury tax cap is projected to hover around $70 million.

One fact that many overlook in this decision is age.  Ariza is 24 years old, and Odom is going to turn 30 at the start of next season.  That means Ariza is primed for a long term contract that could keep this budding star in purple and gold for years to come while Odom likely only has a few more years left where he can play at his current level.

Personally, I can’t imagine letting either player go, but the reality of the situation may prove otherwise.  While both Ariza and Odom have stated that they’d like to remain in LA for another season (Lamar going so far as to say he’d take a pay cut), neither of them is going to accept the league minimum (which may be all Mitch Kupchak can summon).

The coming weeks will be VERY interesting in the world of the Lakers.  Let’s hope we get some good news from the team.

Topics: Ariza, Free Agent, Lakers, Luxury Tax, Odom, Salary Cap

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  • Maurice Ash

    In this situation, i would actually have to go with keeping Trevor Ariza. Lamar Odom maybe one or two more good years but young, raw talent is hard to find right now. Yes he is a great asset to the team but if he is coming off the bench, how much do the lakers really need him. Trevor on the other hand is a big player that can play both outside and in. Plus he is a big defensive threat and an even bigger offensive one.

  • Paul

    I’d give Lamar 4 years. The team simply does not repeat without him. And, Mr. Ash, he came off the bench and played more minutes in the Finals than Bynum. You might as well have said that we keep Rambis over Cooper because Cooper comes off the bench. Coop’s a little harder to replace than Rambis. Same here.

    And do all get the timing of it? Where will Kobe be after 4 more seasons? Ready to wind down? It’s win now. Kobe will be 32 before next season begins, Pau will be 30, Fish’s self-life probably doesn’t go past 2 more years, and, quite simply, Odom will last those same 4 years as Kobe and Pau, as he’s between Kobe and Pau in years [he'll be 31 in Nov '10].

    Ariza doesn’t have quite the same value when Kobe is 36, Pau 34, Odom 35, and Fish is kickin’ it in Cabo with Nick Van Excel. The team will need be rebuilt in 5 seasons or so. Ariza will never be the player to rebuild the team around, and so what’s the point of more than 4 years? The same 4 years that Odom can do.

    And in case some forgot, the efficiency of both for the Finals was: Lamar +18, Ariza +12.39. And last season:

    Ariza: 8.9, 4.3, 1.8, 1.7
    Odom: 11.3, 8.2, 4.2, 1.0

    But even though more use for Odom, and one would be insane to think otherwise, the team needs to keep both. The problem, obviously, is Luke’s 6 at 30 and Sasha’s 3 at 15. Why the team is paying 10 mil a year for those two, well, I’ll let Mitch explain that one. The saving grace is the added revenue from home games during the playoffs, which I believe is 4 mil or so per home game. Maybe Dr. Buss allocates 1 playoff home game and 7 mil for Lamar [that's 11 mil per year] and then pays Ariza from the 7 mil for Odom that comes off the books [Odom's current 14 mil less the noted 7 mil]. Or renew Lamar for a little less and have Ariza with his current 3 mil and 1 playoff home game for 7 mil. Hopefully, Dr. Buss knows that if keeping both means 2-3 extra playoff home games, that’s 8-12 mil. Or at least that’s the approach that ought be taken here.

  • Jimball

    If Kobe really wants a repeat three-peat, why doesn’t he play for one dollar a year and make room for all the backup he needs. I think salaries that are more than 3 or 4 mil per year are more for the players’ ego. I’d trade a years salary to become one of the winningest players in history.

  • Jay

    Kobe should do a Gilbert Arenas and take a pay cut so the Lakers can sign both Lamar and Trevor. With both Kobe and Lamar taking pay cuts, the Lakers should be able to sign both unrestricted free agents.

    Kobe should opt out and resign for less than the max he could get. Make his agent work overtime and get more endorsements to make up for his pay cut.

    Now Shannon Brown, it would be a terrible waste if the Lakers would let go of this kid. Mitch should find a deal to ship out the (broken down) Machine and keep Brown instead.

  • MBS22

    Hopefully a third team won’t come in like James Posey last year with the Celtics.

    http://www.ocregister.com/video/index.php?bcpid=1127694947&bclid=1127690720&bctid=26881704001

  • ayejaye

    Jay, I agree.

    Although Kobe won’t like a pay cut, I’m sure the Lakers look elsewhere to keep both.

    As for Brown, he’s proven himself in the playoffs and he’s still a growing player. Sasha needs to go, he did not deserve that ring. He needs to go.