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Lamar Odom: Having to Make Do on $6-7 Million?

July 11th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Basketball, Kobe, Lakers, NBA

Lamar Odom’s timing is bad. And not for the first time in his career.

It now seems likely that a guy who was a vital cog in the Lakers’ championship run this spring not only will not get a raise … not only will not get some five- or six-year contract … he may be in for a salary cut on the order of $4 million per season.

Meaning he will have to figure out how to live on maybe $7 million per season, down from the average of $10.5 million over the previous six years.

It’s enough to make a guy think twice before buying that new Bentley.

Odom often has seemed to be slightly out of sync. Sometimes it has been about him. Often it has not.

Being drafted by the Clippers certainly wasn’t his fault. Bolting to Miami, in 2003, for that six-year, $63 million deal, certainly was a fine idea.

But then he got sent back to L.A., to the Lakers, in the Shaquille O’Neal deal, and Miami won an NBA title while Odom was in Los Angeles demonstrating that he wasn’t up to the job of No. 2 option, behind Kobe Bryant. And Lamar was on hand for the non-playoff 2005 season, and the 2006 and 2007 seasons that didn’t last all that long, and the dawn of the 2007-08 season, when Kobe lost it and demanded to be traded … mainly because the Odom the Lakers envisioned (the Scottie Pippen to Kobe’s Michael Jordan) never materialized … and finally was taken out of the spotlight he never really has enjoyed when the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol.

Then, in his contract year, Odom lost his starting job to Andrew Bynum, which isn’t exactly the best way to show your value. He got back in the starting five when Bynum (naturally) got hurt, and had a great February … only to do what Lamar Odom does, going all hinky pretty much the rest of the way. Up to and including the playoffs, when everyone got to see what an erratic performer he is.

Ultimately, he registered career lows in minutes per game (29.7) and points per game (11.3). As well as FT percentage and assists.

And now, he is looking for a deal at the NBA’s financial low point of the last 10-15 years, with the salary cap reduced and the Lakers already far over it — and most of the teams with cap space have already committed to other players.

Odom isn’t quite at the mercy of the Lakers, but it’s getting close, and as much as the Lakers like Odom — and he is generally a likeable guy — the Lakers aren’t going to go massively over the cap just so Lamar can keep up the standard of living he has become accustomed to.

He and his people apparently are looking for $10 million per season. The Lakers apparently are thinking more like $6-7 million. That’s a fairly huge gap in expectations.

One option: Lamar signs a one-year deal, with the chance to be a free agent again next season when, perhaps, the economy is better and the salary cap has gone north again. The Lakers wouldn’t mind this because it would, presumably, keep Odom focused on being a productive player — though his various and sundry laspses last season make you wonder how effective the tactic would be.

But that may be the way to go, because a Lamar Odom returning to the Lakers at about 65 percent of what he used to be paid — coming off a championship, by the way — might make for an unhappy Lamar Odom. And if he already can drop one of those 6-point, 5-rebound games into a box without the slightest warning, how often might it happen if he is carrying a grudge toward the club for not paying him before it got around to paying Ron Artest?

Odom didn’t help himself when he said he wanted to stay in Los Angeles. As negotiating ploys go, that was a disaster.

So, anyway, what is going on now is, apparently, not much of any negotiating. The sense here is that the Lakers are waiting for Odom and his agent to sniff around and realize the demand for him isn’t all that high (even after Jeff Van Gundy called him a “top 30 talent” during the playoffs) … and then to get his mind around the idea of a salary cut in excess of any he might have expected … and eventually signing with the club and heaving a big sigh and trying to tell us with a straight face it isn’t about the money.

Make no mistake, the Lakers need Lamar Odom. Without him, they’re a player short of a title. He gives the Lakers that third big man. But his leverage is limited.

It’s a sort of fascinating dance. How low will the Lakers go, and does Lamar have any real options — options he will accept — out there? Might not be resolved for several weeks, but it makes for an interesting social experiment.


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 soccer goals // Jul 24, 2009 at 4:03 PM

    that is chump change for Beckham

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