It’s been awhile since Lamar Odom, former Los Angeles Laker and Dallas Maverick, has been in the news. The latest thing we heard from him was that his teammates voted to not give him a playoff share, a damning event that epitomized his disastrous season with the Dallas Mavericks.
And it was awful, to be sure. Odom shot a godawful 35 percent from the floor while being a specter defensively. His time with the Mavericks is like having Andrew Bynum check out every single night (as opposed to whenever he feels like it). Something beyond the realm of basketball was making Lamar Odom’s play suffer, and it was damn obvious.
What was bothering Lamar Odom, though, is crucial. Because there’s a real possibility that Lamar Odom heads back to Los Angeles, and that was even bolstered when the L.A. Times speculated (or suggested, we can’t tell) he could be brought back.
It’s crucial because there are a number of theories out there, and they’ll determine if L.O. can ever play basketball correctly again. If Lamar Odom is undergoing personal shortcomings, then the issues are pretty static and pervasive; it’s not easy to do what you love to do if you’re, say, clinically depressed. Your work ethic dies down and nothing seems to matter anymore, professionally. Getting out of bed is a personal challenge when you’re depressed, let alone getting out of bed and performing in the NBA at a high level.
If Odom’s personal issues have gotten in the way of basketball? If his marriage is dissolving, or his father’s poor health has gotten to him? Then we can expect Lamar to recover with proper social support from the NBA fraternity and from teammates who loved him back in Los Angeles. In fact, if that’s the case, a return to the Lakers would be a surefire way to bring him back to the level he was at in 2011.
And if Lamar Odom simply misses Los Angeles and feels jilted when the trade involving Chris Paul occurred? Then a quick reconciliation between Mitch Kupchak, Mike Brown, Lamar and the rest of his teammates is going to almost certainly ensure Lamar is going to play at a high level again.
Financially, for LA? This shouldn’t be an issue; I’d be damned if an NBA team offered Lamar Odom significantly more than the veteran’s minimum. Being offered a million more tacked onto the veteran’s minimum wouldn’t sway him from the West Coast, and teams would be crazy to do so for a 32-year old power forward who looked like a shell of himself within the span of less than one season.
Why would LA want him? Because you can’t go wrong with signing a match-up nightmare for the veteran’s minimum. The risk is that Lamar Odom might not be himself again, but it isn’t as if his salary is going to further bury us deeper into the luxury tax (since minimum contracts don’t count against the salary cap). And with Pau Gasol likely gone in the offseason, Lamar Odom could possibly be jutted back into the Lakers’ starting line-up, since any trade involving Pau Gasol would likely net us a solid point guard and not a big man to go along with Andrew Bynum.
(Of course, if Lamar Odom gets greedy and asks for more than the veteran’s minimum, then there’s no point, but something tells me that’s unlikely.)
It’s up to Mitch Kupchak, though. Don’t expect Lamar to come knocking on Mitch’s door, begging to come back. A man can only be turned away in dramatic fashion so many times. If this thing’s going to work — if Lamar comes back to Los Angeles to suit up in purple and gold again — then Kupchak needs to go out there and woo Lamar.
And, let’s be honest, there’s no harm. Pick up your phone and make the call, Mitch.