<
>

Odom and the Lakers: On Again

10/20/2009

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Lamar Odom-Lakers rom-com has entered its third act -- the moment in the flick when the two parties realize that, despite all the aggravation and grievances, they desperately need each other:

Is the table being set again?

A week after the Lakers pulled a pair of contract offers to Lamar Odom off the table, the sides resumed talks Wednesday.

The discussions were labeled productive, but there was nothing to report "at the moment," according to a source familiar with negotiations who was not authorized to comment publicly.

It didn't look great last week for Odom's return to the Lakers after the franchise yanked its offers of three years and $30 million or four years and $36 million, with the fourth year only partially guaranteed.

But the sides began communicating in a more positive light Wednesday. Financial details were not immediately available, though the Lakers were not expected to have improved their initial offers. If anything, the offers might have dropped slightly.

Odom, who will be 30 in November, was a key part of the Lakers' championship run, and his teammates, including Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, have unilaterally expressed a desire for his return.

Odom's value on the court has been discussed in detail, and there are several advanced metrics that support the idea that Odom is the Lakers' second-most valuable player behind Kobe Bryant. It's not merely a system thing -- though Odom is a prototypical triangulartor. And he's not just an insurance policy for Andrew Bynum -- though Odom's versatility in the frontcourt gives Phil Jackson that luxury and comfort.

Odom is simply indispensable, and an essential cog to what the Lakers do on both ends of the floor. If the 30-year-old Hedo Turkoglu is worth five years and $53 million, then a guaranteed contract in the $45 million neighborhood for the 29-year-old Odom represents an outright bargain.