The Los Angeles Lakers have the best team in the West. On Christmas, they went head-to-head with Boston and ended the Celtics’ 19-game winning streak. They have a record of 25-5 yet some still think the Lakers need to make a roster upgrade. Their most valuable asset that has any likelihood of being dealt is Lamar Odom, who has a $14 million contract expiring at the end of the year.
But Odom’s unique skill set—at 6’10” he can defend multiple positions, handle the ball, post up and rebound well—makes him a valuable part of this Lakers team. He’s shifted to a sixth man role this season, and he’s had his ups and downs coming off the bench, but there is no denying his talent. There will be a number of teams vying for his services should he become a free agent at the end of the year, and the Lakers may be forced to let him walk.
With all that in mind, I still think the Lakers should keep Odom, stay put, and let this roster, bolstered by a healthy Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza, take another stab at winning the championship. Having said that, there’s no doubt that Odom’s name will continue to headline any Lakers trade rumors until after the deadline passes. So, here are what I believe to be the top-10 possible, if not entirely plausible, trade destinations for Lamar Odom. They’re ranked 1-10 with number one being in the best interest of the Lakers.
10. To the Denver Nuggets (along with Josh Powell) for Nene, Linas Kleiza and Chucky Atkins
Kleiza would improve the Lakers at the 3, but probably not enough to justify a deal involving Odom. Atkins would also fill in as backup point guard during Farmar’s injury time. Nuggets would have a potential starting lineup of Kenyon Martin, Odom, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Chauncey Billups.
9. To the Dallas Mavericks (along with Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga) for Jerry Stackhouse, Jose Juan Barea, Brandon Bass and DeSagana Diop
This is a Mavs team that hasn’t been the same since dealing for Jason Kidd. Stackhouse is rotting on the bench. Teaming Odom with Nowitski gives them an interesting wrinkle and Odom’s ballhandling ability lessens the load on Kidd as well. Barea is where the Mavs would probably flinch, but he’d give the Lakers great point guard insurance while Farmar is injured. Stackhouse gives them another shooter off the bench.
8. To the Golden State Warriors (along with Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga) for Corey Magette and Ronny Turiaf
It would be great to get Turiaf back in L.A., and Magette would be an upgrade at small forward, but the questions would be, first of all, how would he handle being the fourth option on offense. And secondly, would he make an impact on defense? Meanwhile, Odom would flourish in the Warriors’ up-tempo style.
7. To the New Jersey Nets for Vince Carter
The Nets are playing well considering how they are clearly in cap-space mode. This move would create even more flexibility for them. As for Carter’s prospects in L.A.? If this was 2001, it’d be a different story, but 2008 Carter isn’t worth as much. His defense is shaky and his shooting isn’t consistent enough to make the Lakers pull the trigger on this one.
6. To the Washington Wizards (along with Josh Powell) for Antawn Jamison and Etan Thomas
Washington’s season is already a mess, so they might as well start thinking about the future. Talent-wise, this is a pretty fair deal. Jamison is a better scorer, but Odom is a better passer, ballhandler and defender. Plus, the Wizards could use some cap flexibility after locking up Gilbert Arenas for such a big figure this past offseason. I question Jamison’s ability to stretch the defense and his ability to play defense, but he would make L.A. a more potent offensive team.
5. To the Miami Heat (along with Vladimir Radmanovich) for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks
This deal features four guys with contracts that are probably too high. On paper, Marion would be the perfect fit for the Lakers, but with an expiring contract, he might be nothing more than a few-month rental. The flipside of that is that he would likely play his best to earn a new deal from someone, even if it wasn’t the Lakers. As for Odom, he would reunite with Dwayne Wade and could tutor Heat rookie Michael Beasley.
4. To the Milwaukee Bucks (along with Sasha Vujacic) for Michael Redd, Tyronn Lue and Luc Mbah a Moute
The Bucks have to figure it out soon enough. Michael Redd is good, but your team isn’t going to thrive if he’s your first option. In L.A., Redd would be a fourth option and a perfect spot-up shooter to play with Kobe, Gasol and Bynum. Kobe would shift to the three in this configuration. For Milwaukee, Vujacic would slide into Redd’s role as a knockdown shooter, and he’s younger and cheaper. Plus, they’d have the option to re-sign Odom or let him walk and claim the cap space. Either way, this is the deal the Bucks would do as opposed to the swap listed below.
3. To the Milwaukee Bucks for Richard Jefferson
An interesting one-for-one swap here. Jefferson’s deal would put the Lakers on the books for an extra two years, but he would give them an all-star caliber small forward. The bigger problem is where Odom would fit in with the Bucks’ roster.
2. To the Chicago Bulls (along with Josh Powell) for Luol Deng and Drew Gooden
The Bulls might like Odom in their lineup or use his expiring contract to find money to sign Ben Gordon or other free agents. In Deng, the Lakers get their starting 3-man, vaulting ahead of Radmanovich, Walton and Ariza.
1. To the Detroit Pistons (along with Josh Powell) for Tayshaun Prince and Kwame Brown
Lakers fans might groan at the prospect of Kwame Brown returning, but Prince would be a major upgrade at the 3, providing the Lakers with an exceptional perimeter defender who can also shoot from distance with consistency. Is Pistons GM Joe Dumars that desperate to dump salary? It’s doubtful, but it’s definitely worth making the call.
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