Friday, December 9, 2011
Lamar Odom late to Lakers camp
By Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Friday was supposed to be about new beginnings for the Los Angeles Lakers as the team opened up training camp to start the season, but instead it was dominated by the fallout from Thursday's trade that was ended by NBA commissioner David Stern.
Both Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol did not practice with the Lakers on the first day of training camp and both exited the facility without speaking to the media.
Odom reported more than 90 minutes late to the start of practice and more than three hours past the team's 9:30 a.m. PT meeting time. He did not stay long, still dealing with hurt feelings over nearly being traded in a blockbuster for Chris Paul the night before.
"To me, I would think it's better to stay away," Odom told The Los Angeles Times. "You know, the energy and all. I don't know how it's going to go right now. It's a little weird."
Odom spoke to general manager Mitch Kupchak and then left without practicing. Before that meeting, Kupchak addressed the rest of the Lakers at the start of practice regarding the abnormal trade scenario that had occurred.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum said Kupchak wanted to clear the air and acknowledge the "awkward moment."
Odom would have ended up with the Hornets, while Gasol would have gone to the Rockets in the three-team trade that would have brought Paul to Los Angeles. The deal was nixed by Stern, who said it wasn't good for the Hornets. Paul did show up for Hornets camp Friday.
Odom told the Times that when a team does something to a player it's called "business," but when a player does not show up for any reason it's called "unprofessional." He said he was home resting and would wait to see if a trade still goes through.
"I don't know if it's going to happen overnight or it's going to be a drawn-out process," Odom said, according to the newspaper.
"I don't want to offend the sport and the professionalism. Right now, I'll be a fan of the game from the distance. But as of right now, I just don't know."
And Odom might still be on the way out. Sources told ESPN's Chris Broussard and Marc Stein that the three teams are trying to reconfigure the trade to make it acceptable to the league. The deal could be reworked to include Bynum, a possibility that hardly phases the 7-footer.
"It's been that way for me now for the past four years," Bynum said. "I've been in every trade rumor I think, so I don't even think about them. It doesn't matter. I just show up and I play for this team because that's the team I'm a part of.
"I'm not shook up about it. If I'm here tomorrow, it's great. If I'm not, it's still great. I still get to play basketball. So, it will just be for someone else."
The Lakers were patient with Odom Friday, saying they understood why he was staying away, before he showed up.
"Any conversations we have with him on this will be handled internally," Lakers vice president of public relations John Black said.
New Lakers coach Mike Brown did not know when Gasol and Odom would be available to him in practice.
"I don't have any expectations right now," Brown said. "I'm going to coach the guys that are here. You understand how those guys are feeling and you respect it. And so for me right now to try to get macho and tough and say this or that when those guys (have) been through an emotional time, that doesn't make sense. I know I'm OK giving them some time and some space and we have more than enough guys. If not, you can ask Mitch, he allowed me to hire enough coaches. One or two of them can sub in if need be."
Gasol joined his teammates and was present at the practice facility for Day 1 of camp.
"New day my friends. On my way to El Segundo for the first day of training camp #staypositive #NBAisBack," Gasol tweeted Friday morning.
However, he did not practice and left early to receive medical attention for a strained right quad, according to Black.
"It was good to see my teammates today. I couldn't practice because of a strained right quad but I hope tomorrow I can do more drills," Gasol tweeted later in the day.
He added in a separate tweet: "No matter what ends up happening, I'll always be the person and the player that I am. Everything will work itself out. #AlwaysPositive"
Team co-captain Kobe Bryant was confident his teammates will move forward from the aborted trade.
"I'm sure it's a little tough at first when you first hear it, kind of the whole shock of the whole situation, but after that, they'll get over it," Bryant said. "You don't win back-to-back championships while being soft emotionally, that's not the case."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.