Posted on: July 30, 2009 5:43 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2009 8:37 pm

Odom chooses Lakers (UPDATE)

Lamar Odom is doing the only thing that makes sense.

Returning to the Lakers.

All of this indecision for nothing.

UPDATE: The Lakers confirmed Thursday that they've reached an agreement with Odom and hope to finalize it in the next couple of days. Neither the Lakers nor Odom's agent, Jeff Schwartz, would comment on the details. A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com that Odom's teammates have been informed that the 6-10 forward isn't going anywhere, and a second source placed the total value of the four-year deal at significantly more than the mid-level exception but less than $33 million with the fourth-year team option factored in.

Either way, that's less than the Lakers originally offered, however -- a sign of just how much Odom wanted to stay with the Lakers. The cap-strapped Heat are believed to have offered a five-year deal starting at the mid-level exception of $5.9 million, giving Odom the ability to opt out after the fourth year.

Odom, 29, was one of the most integral pieces in the Lakers' championship run last season, and GM Mitch Kupchak prioritized his prized sixth man over fellow free agent starter Trevor Ariza. Odom's decision to turn down aggressive overtures from Miami Heat president Pat Riley and reigning scoring champion Dwyane Wade ended a month-long saga in which the Lakers pulled their initial offer off the table once Odom's agent began shopping it to other teams. Riley and Wade met personally with Odom on Monday, but couldn't close the deal.

UPDATE: The Lakers started the offseason with a flourish, coming out of nowhere to sign free agent Ron Artest when it became obvious that Ariza wanted more than market value -- the mid-level exception -- to stay in L.A. Lakers owner Jerry Buss let Ariza walk, but wasn't going to give up so easily on Odom. At various times this summer, teammates Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher had publicly lobbied for Odom to re-sign. It was perhaps a sign that even they weren't sure how this was going to end even though Odom had stated during the Finals that he had no intention of leaving the Lakers unless he received an offer he couldn't refuse.

That offer wasn't going to come from Miami, a team that is over the cap and probably still would've been another piece away from championship contention even if it had landed Odom. Playing with Wade would've satisfied one of Odom's requirements; he's never wanted to be a No. 1 option on his team. But with the Lakers, Odom can dominate for short spurts off the bench, taking advantage of mismatches against second units. His versatility -- playing on the perimeter and under the basket, defending small forwards and centers -- will be crucial to the Lakers staying on top in the West given the improvements made this summer by their competitors, most notably the Spurs.

And remember what Artest said the day he agreed to terms with the Lakers. One of the first points he made was that he's known Odom since both were teen-agers playing on the playgrounds of Queens and AAU tournaments. Artest has done a lot of crazy stuff in his career, but I always believed that he wouldn't have jumped quite so quickly at the Lakers' offer had he believed there was even a slim chance Odom would be leaving. 

Where does this leave the Heat? Well, there is always Carlos Boozer, who almost certainly will be dealt before the February trade deadline. Miami still has a $4 million trade exception it acquired in the Jermaine O'Neal trade. If not Boozer, Miami will have some cap flexibility next summer to surround Wade with the championship-level talent he so desperately desires. The problem is, if Wade doesn't sign an extension before then, he'll be fielding free agent offers, too.

Category: NBA
Posted on: July 27, 2009 10:51 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2009 9:08 am

Odom meeting with Riley, Wade

The Miami Heat's pursuit of free agent Lamar Odom has escalated in recent days. Now, reigning scoring champion Dwyane Wade reportedly will have a chance to close the deal in person.

Although Wade is dealing with forces beyond his control, he usually closes the deal.

Reporter Jim Hill of the CBS-TV affiliate in Los Angeles reports that Odom was scheduled to meet with Wade and Pat Riley on Monday in hopes of finalizing the talented sixth man's departure from the defending champion Lakers. This comes after Wade escalated his recruitment of Odom on his Twitter account over the weekend, urging Odom to "come back to where it started for both of us."

Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who personally closed the deal with free agent Ron Artest earlier this month, pulled his initial offer of three years and approximately $30 million off the table -- apparently in frustration over Odom's insistence on shopping the offer to other teams. Neither the Lakers nor Odom has closed the door on reigniting the talks, and some close to Odom still believe he prefers to re-sign with the Lakers. A face-to-face meeting with Riley and Wade will go a long way toward determining whether Odom and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, are posturing for a better offer or serious about leaving Hollywood for South Beach, where Odom played the 2003-04 season when Wade was a rookie.

A resolution is expected by the end of the week, but there's no foolproof way to handicap Odom's destination. Clearly, there will be no home-team discount for the Lakers. But if Odom was so intent on leaving, wouldn't he have made a decision already? Riley and Wade are extremely persuasive, but will they be able to sell Odom on the idea that Miami is a better championship contender with Odom than the Lakers are?

I'm on record saying Odom would be better off staying in L.A., but it's not my money or my career. If Odom finally decides to return to the Lakers, all of this posturing and negotiating will be forgotten. In my opinion, he fits better on that team than he would anywhere else.

Posted on: July 22, 2009 11:34 am

Time to re-sign, Lamar

A few weeks ago when Ron Artest decided to sign with the Lakers, one of the first things out of his mouth was this: "I know Lamar Odom, so that's pretty cool."

Artest and Odom have known each other since they were kids growing up in Queens, playing in the playgrounds and on AAU teams. As much as Artest wanted to sign with the Lakers -- even saying he'd "play there for nothing" -- it is unfathomable that he would've made such a bold career move without knowing L.O. would be on board.

This is why the posturing, the rejected offers, and the offers taken off the table over the past few weeks have been so puzzling. Well, puzzling isn't the right word. I never -- ever -- begrudge athletes, entertainers, finance people, or anybody else when they try to get paid. That is their right and that is how the game is played. An athlete's career is a nanosecond, and they should make as much money as humanly possible. You would do the same thing. So would I.

But the time has come for Odom and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, to recognize that the market is what it is for a player who might just be the best sixth man in the NBA -- but one who, nonetheless, has never made so much as an All-Star team or led the league in any major statistical category. Odom wears his heart on his sleeve and the address of the South Jamaica home where he grew up on the tongues of his sneakers. The dirty secret that Lakers management has known throughout this process is that Odom's heart is in L.A. That's where he and his sneakers belong, too.

Miami? Nice place. No state income tax. Great teammate to play with in Dwyane Wade. But adding Odom wouldn't put the Heat any closer to a title than the Lakers would be if they re-signed him. Portland? The Blazers certainly have the cap space after losing out on Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Millsap, but Portland doesn't feel like the right fit for Odom.

In my mind, the only place besides L.A. that would've made sense for Odom was Boston. But the Celtics struck early in the free-agent period and signed Rasheed Wallace for a fraction of what Odom is seeking.

There will be no hard feelings on either side when, I predict, Odom relents and accepts a three-year deal from the Lakers for somewhere north of $30 million. Derek Fisher is on record saying, "We want him back badly and I hope we can accomplish that in the next couple days." Kobe Bryant is on record saying he's "optimistic" that Odom will return to the Lakers. It is time for those recruiting efforts and optimism to become reality.

Some people whose names end in two G's don't like Lamar Odom. They're stuck in their wistful thinking about how good he could've been if he'd applied himself or if he wanted to be one of the top five players of his era. Odom certainly has that kind of talent. But he was born to be a wingman, and life's challenges have only solidified that niche for him. The Lakers are the perfect team for him, and he for them. It's time to stop posturing and put pen to paper with the Lakers. I refuse to believe that Fisher, Bryant, and Artest will let him do anything different. If Odom knows what's good for him -- if he knows where he's wanted and where he belongs -- then he'll listen.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com