by Brian Williams
Media chatter about Forward Lamar Odom being traded has been going on ever since he put on a Lakers uniform. Odom’s recent playoff performance only increased the talk about sending him somewhere for a more consistent and true small forward.
Odom averaged 14 points per game (ppg), 10 rebounds per game (rpg), and shot over 52% from the field last season. Odom has also shown up in the playoffs throughout his career; he has averaged 16 ppg, 10 rpg, and has shot 47%. So you’d think that having a player like Odom would be a plus for a finals-bound team. Think again.
When the Lakers won championships in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant played alongside third option Glen Rice, who had a role that Odom should have filled. Rice averaged 16 ppg over those two seasons and provided a three-point shot that was consistent and undeniable. He was a true small forward. With Center Andrew Bynum coming back next year, Pau Gasol will move to power forward and Odom will move to small forward.
I think Odom is confused about what position he plays, and it’s not his fault. The Lakers will want him to be the small forward in the triangle offense next year, but he plays like a 6’10″ point guard. Odom is arguably one of the most talented players in the NBA: he is 6’10″, he can dribble, shoot, drive, pass, post-up, jam, and play smart… sometimes. The only problem is that Odom is inconsistent. One night he will put up 25 points, 15 rebounds, and 6 assists, and the next night you will barely notice he’s in the game.
This is why the Lakers, despite Odom’s raw talent, need to trade for a true small forward who can fill the role that’s needed. There have been rumors about the Lakers possibly acquiring Richard Jefferson from the New Jersey Nets, but I would stray away from that.
If the Lakers want to go all the way, they need a small forward who can defend against players like Paul Pierce. While a Bynum-Gasol-Odom presence offers rebounding advantages, I would look into trading for Ron Artest. While Artest is a hothead, so was Rodman, so was Payton, and Phil Jackson handled those guys. The Lakers need a small forward who can pass, defend, and play within the offense, not necessarily someone who rebounds well.
Artest can score, shoot the three-ball, and defend one-on-one like nobody else in the NBA. I don’t doubt the Lakers will be successful with the players they currently have, but I think a trade for Artest would only boost their chances at an NBA title.
and Artest wouldn’t do the following…