Lamar Odom staying with Lakers
Sentinel Wire Services
Lamar Odom is sticking with the NBA champs.
After a rocky free-agent courtship, Odom agreed on a multiyear contract to stay with the Lakers, keeping intact most of the roster that won the club’s 15th NBA title this summer.
Lakers spokesman John Black confirmed an agreement, but wouldn’t discuss specifics.
The contract, contains three guaranteed years and a fourth-year option, maintains the Lakers’ core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher and Odom alongside new teammate Ron Artest. Odom’s return means Los Angeles likely will be favored to win another Western Conference title – and that’s what the 6-foot-10 Odom said he prized most during his eventful few weeks as a free agent.
Odom, a 10-year NBA veteran, proved his determination to win last season when he accepted and thrived in a reserve role for the Lakers, averaging 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds during the postseason.
Odom repeatedly said he preferred to stay with the Lakers, but apparently came close to leaving – either by choice or necessity. Los Angeles pulled a previous contract offer from the table when Odom was slow to respond to it, and Dwyane Wade heavily lobbied Odom to return to Miami, where they spent one season together.
Portland also apparently made a bid for Odom’s versatile offensive game and passing skills, but the New York City native always made it clear he preferred the personal opportunities and lifestyle only found in Los Angeles, where he spent his first four NBA seasons with the Clippers and his last five with the Lakers.
After playing extensively up front last season, Odom could move to the backcourt for more playing time in the fall. Center Andrew Bynum will be healthy after missing much of last season with a torn knee ligament, while Artest’s defensive versatility allows him to guard much taller players – perhaps freeing up Odom to use his improved 3-point stroke from the perimeter.
Among the key players in last season’s run to the title, the Lakers lost only forward Trevor Ariza, who emerged as a dependable rotation player last season, particularly during the playoffs. Ariza joined the Houston Rockets after Los Angeles signed Artest, the mercurial defensive specialist who finally realized his long-held dream to play with Bryant.