Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Updated: July 15, 1:11 PM ET
Sources: Lakers pull Odom offer
By Marc Stein
LAS VEGAS -- Lamar Odom and the Los Angeles Lakers had reached an agreement on annual salary before the Lakers pulled out of contract talks with their versatile sixth man, sources with knowledge of the talks said on Tuesday.
Sources told ESPN.com that Odom and the Lakers had reached an accord entering the weekend on a per-season wage of $9 million for the 29-year-old. But Odom balked at L.A.'s unwillingness to extend an offer spanning more than three years in length and spent the past few days weighing his options.
The Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site earlier Tuesday night that Lakers owner Jerry Buss, upset that he was still waiting for Odom's response, has decided to take the offer off the table. Yet one source told ESPN.com that Odom was never given a deadline to accept or pass on the Lakers' three-year, $27 million pitch.
Lakers spokesman John Black acknowledged to the Times that "talks have broken down for the time being" but conceded that a resumption in negotiations is "within the realm of possibility," which most rival teams would expect given Odom's importance during the Lakers' championship run last season and the fact that the only apparent issue between the sides is contract length.
Neither Odom nor agent Jeff Schwartz could be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Yet it's believed that Odom has indeed received offers from the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks that -- because neither Florida nor Texas imposes state taxes -- are not as far away in value from the Lakers' presentation as it would seem.
Odom would have the ability with either the Heat or the Mavericks to sign a three-year, $19 million contract and negotiate a new deal with full Larry Bird rights in the summer of 2012 or take a five-year deal worth $34 million to bank more overall money, along with the state-tax benefits, than he could in a new three-year deal with the Lakers.
Odom, though, has made it clear over the past several months that he has no desire to leave the Lakers, whom he joined in the summer of 2004 when L.A. broke up its three-peat duo of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant by trading O'Neal to Miami for Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant. He made $14.1 million last season to complete the six-year, $63 million contract he received from Miami in the summer of 2003, but one source close to the process says he has accepted the $5 million pay cut without fuss.
Although he initially chafed at his move to the bench, Odom ultimately flourished as a sixth man, averaging 12.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 32 minutes per game during the playoffs, when he frequently wound up partnering with Pau Gasol in the Lakers' frontcourt since young center Andrew Bynum was still developing.
Replacing Trevor Ariza with the more physical Ron Artest this offseason has given the Lakers someone to absorb at least some of Odom's minutes and responsibilities if he does leave. But Odom's departure would be undoubtedly celebrated by other playoff contenders in the West, since it's the luxury of having three long-limbed big men to flank Kobe Bryant -- Odom, Gasol and Bynum -- that makes L.A. so unique. Odom also ranks as one of Artest's closest friends in the game, so his continued presence would theoretically help Lakers coach Phil Jackson and Bryant manage the mercurial Artest.
Asked in a Monday telephone interview with the L.A. Times why a deal was not yet done, Odom said: "I don't know. That's why there are negotiations. I don't know. Of course I hope they can get it done. It's negotiations. Both sides are going to give and take. That's part of it. I don't know how long it's going to take. ... The Lakers have been too good to me to rub people over there the wrong way. The Lakers have been nothing but great to me, and I want to keep the relationship great."
In the event that the talks are not resuscitated, L.A. would have to count on the unpredictable Artest and the up-and-down Bynum to fill the void.
One source close to the process said Odom, in that scenario, would likely favor a return to the Heat, which would be a strong statement by Miami management to 2010 free agent-to-be Dwyane Wade. The Heat could theoretically sign Odom, trade for Utah's Carlos Boozer and then re-sign Boozer in the summer of 2010 without needing salary-cap space because Miami would own Boozer's Bird rights. Those moves would set Wade up to be flanked by two quality forwards and almost certainly enhance the Heat's chances of convincing their star to stay.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.