Lakers

2011 NBA Draft Rumors: Obviously Lakers Should Trade Lamar Odom

| by Alex Groberman

Lamar Odom has always been a fan favorite in Los Angeles. Despite his ultra-Hollywood tendencies -- especially funny, given his Queens roots -- Odom has always maintained a grounded position with everyone he encounters, media and fans alike. His realness, unselfishness and persevering spirit -- in light of personal tragedies -- have carved out a special place for him in the hearts of any and all Los Angelinos, something he and his family are well aware of.

That said, if the right deal comes along, ship his a** out.

Odom, 31, peaked this season. After putting up arguably the greatest performance of his professional career in 2011 (in terms of impact, not numbers) with averages of 14 points and nearly nine rebounds on a stacked championship-caliber unit, he walked with his first major individual award – Sixth Man of the Year. For a guy who has chased that elusive All-Star nod throughout his entire stint in the NBA, the honor no doubt meant a lot to him, and is probably something that took a little bit of the sting off of his team’s disappointing finish.

And yet despite the fact that Odom played arguably his best ball ever in a Lakers uniform, the team faltered. Sure, Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant are probably more responsible for the embarrassment that was this team’s postseason collapse, but Odom revealed just how expendable he truly is by mildly shining in defeat. Even though his totals dipped in the playoffs, Odom was still the third best player on the roster versus the New Orleans Hornets and Dallas Mavericks, something that means zilch given the end result. For all of his talent, stats and ridiculous fluidity with the ball, Odom has never lived up to the game-changing expectations set out for him, and in all likelihood never will.

So, if someone has to get moved out of the Andrew Bynum, Gasol and Odom three-headed, seven-footer trifecta that was supposed to dominate the NBA but never really did, Lamar is the obvious choice. Gasol, for all of his playoff woes, is still a top-five forward in the league. His inexplicable decline during the postseason was pathetic, but Odom has had far more similar disappearing acts over the course of his career. Bynum would be a great player to move, but Jim Buss is all but breastfeeding him at this point, so that’s not going to happen. That just leaves Odom.

Odom for Andre Iguodala doesn’t seem like a particularly great deal for the Lakers. The athletic guard-forward is younger and a better defender, sure, but he’s also smaller and puts up eerily similar numbers to Odom. Essentially, Buss would be swapping size and experience for athleticism and kind-of-sort-of youth, which even theoretically doesn’t sound all that great.

If a good deal presents itself with Odom, though, the Lakers should pull the trigger on it. Unlike Gasol, Bryant and Bynum, Odom is someone that can go. The San Antonio Spurs have proven over the course of the last four years that by not changing things up and hoping for the best, all you’re guaranteeing yourself is countless postseason appearances that end in painful, crushing defeat.

We don’t hang Pacific Division championship banners out here, Jim Buss. Lamar is a good bartering chip, use him accordingly.