Lakers roundup

By Jason Wojciechowski on June 21, 2008 at 3:42 AM

Here's a roundup of some stuff about the Lakers, Lamar Odom, and so forth.

Mark Heisler says that Lamar Odom is a candidate to be traded. Heisler makes the point that everyone, myself included, has been making: Lamar is probably miscast as a small forward, in no small part because of his shaky outside shooting. He mentions the new-to-me bit that Odom was actually part of the Gasol trade until the Grizzlies' owner asked that he be taken out in favor of players that would give more (and quicker) cap relief (i.e. Kwame Brown). Heisler then simply states as a given that the Lakers will "surely shop him this off-season." Unfortunately, he mentions no potential trade partners, no small forwards that might come back in the deal, and so on.

In the same story, Heisler refers to Kobe Bryant as "the best there ever was at creating a shot," which, come to think of it, sounds about right. I wasn't privy to the fantastic Jordan years, since I was too young, but I've seen things on tape, and he didn't do the things that Kobe does with regularity. Kobe's up-fakes and step-throughs and slithery drives and over-the-head layups to avoid shot-blockers, and sideways jumpers falling out of bounds are, if not things that no one else does, at least things that no one else does with the regularity and the success that Kobe does them. Instead of tearing Bryant down as "not Jordan" or whatever else you want to say, we really should be appreciating the most beautiful individual basketball player many of us are likely to ever see. I've said it before: if LeBron James-type ball is the future of the league, then count me out. There's no artistry, no jazz in his game. Kobe is Charlie Parker, LeBron is a small-town basement-show-playing hardcore band. That band may be brilliant in its own way, but subtle and a beautiful sight to behold it is not.

I won't link to each and every one, but the L.A. Times Lakers Blog has links to audio taken from the press conferences given after (or, in Jordan Farmar's case, before) their exit interviews.

The same blog also reported that Trevor Ariza will be back in a Laker uniform next year, as he exercised his player option.

Forum Blue and Gold has an excellent breakdown of the Laker roster, including their salary situation for next year. It mentions something I didn't realize, which is that Chris Mihm has a player option for next year. Given that he hardly played, and that the option is for $2.7M, he's certain to exercise it. I had, in my previous post, marked him as a guy that wouldn't be on the team, but that's clearly not that case. That clouds the picture a little bit regarding a potential multi-player Lamar Odom trade, but not too much to really be a concern.

That post also contains some particularly good tidbits breaking down Odom's game as a small forward, including a quote from David Thorpe, one of ESPN's best analysts (a guy who can actually talk about what's going on on the floor).

The Press-Enterprise says that Sasha Vujacic may want the full $5.8M mid-level exception, which strikes me both as too much money and also something the Lakers would have to pay. Who's out there who can bring what Vujacic brings off the bench for this team?

NJ.com writes about a potential Richard Jefferson-for-Lamar Odom swap, which strikes me as a little bit hopeful from their perspective. Here's hoping Mitch Kupchak finds something better if he insists on dealing Odom.

The Orange County Register's Lakers Blog has a story that reminds me why I like Lamar Odom so much: "Odom was in one of the more down-in-the-dumps moods I've ever seen him. He said the first thing that happened in his exit meeting with Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson was Kupchak apologizing for a local newspaper column suggesting Odom will be shopped by the Lakers this summer." This is a guy who works and works throughout the game and the season and just gets ragged on mercilessly by the fans. He clearly wants to win, and he seems to like the situation he's in with the Lakers, as a strong supporting member of an excellent team: that he's down about potentially being traded is a good thing in my mind. Unfortunately, wanting to be here and actually fitting in with what the Lakers want to do are two different things.

That same story also has a bit about how Richard Jefferson is a strong defender against Paul Pierce, which could help the Lakers in a potential rematch. If Mitch Kupchak or Phil Jackson give even one second to thinking about whether their third-best player, a guy they are considering trading Lamar Odom for, matches up with Paul Pierce, a player the Lakers are guaranteed to see exactly twice next year, they ought to be fired for gross negligence. You don't build your team with an eye toward a Finals appearance that may never happen for the Lakers (especially if you think Odom-for-Jefferson actually weakens the team overall) and is probably even less likely to happen for the Celtics.

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