Lamar Odom is unhappy with Lakers’ management and their latest offer of 3-years, $27 million (reported). From LA’s side, Andrew Bynum is one year older, and, unlike Trevor Ariza at the beginning of last season, they have a solid player starting for them at the three in Ron Artest. So, can Jerry Buss afford to pull the deal off the table and go without Lamar? Odom has long been the x-factor for this team – when he played well in the finals, they won – but going without him would mean a heavier burden on Ron and Andrew. I’m sure Odom’s looking at the contract signed by another 30-year-old this offseason while cursing Buss. Hedo Turkoglu signed for 5-years and somewhere in between $53 and $56 million with Toronto, but the Lakers don’t appear willing to extend the length of the deal. I’m under the impression that Lamar simply wants to feel wanted being the emotional guy that he is, and I wonder if these frustrations with LA will stay with him for a long time, no matter where he signs. Kobe Bryant joined The Herd on ESPN Radio to discuss what he wants for Lamar, how he has to take less shots with the current roster, and what it feels like to play for the Lakers organization.
Have you called Lamar Odom? What do you say to teammates who are going through free agency?
“I have. How I handle this situation is, I communicate to them how much I care for them; our team in particular has grown extremely close, so we all have a very close bond. First and foremost, I wanna look out for them as a person, so it’s always important to me that they do what’s best for them and their family. At the same time, it’s important that they know how much I want them back, and how much I enjoy playing with them. And, I would love for us to come back and give another shot at this thing, but it’s very important for me that they do what’s right for them and what’s right for their family as well.”
What do you say to your critics who used to say you shot too much?
“Everything that I’ve was always done was predicated off of winning, and what’s going to give us the best chance to win. A couple years ago, Phil and I both understood that in order for us to be competitive with the roster that we had, I had to shoulder the load scoring-wise to keep us competitive. We made a couple adjustments in our roster, bringing Derek back, obviously adding the big Spaniard, couple tweaks here and there, now I was able to step back and be more of a decoy more often than not and get other guys going, and I think that just made us a better team.”
What is it like playing for the Lakers? Do you still get goosebumps?
“It’s something magical about playing in Staples Center and putting on a Laker uniform and running out before a game. It’s just special; you’re playing for an organization that so rich in history and tradition, and, you feel that. And, to be a part of that, it’s really special, man. I remember getting goosebumps before middle school games, and high school games, and here at the professional level is no different.”