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.