Just wondering if it's worth asking the question of whether the Clippers, with their MLE and trade exception, should be mentioning our old friend LO, still dangling out there, especially amidst all of the Iverson talk.
KA--who just put up a nice two-games-in Summer League update--talked about the Clips basic needs in his "Answer Me Not" post yesterday. There's the backup PG, 3rd guard issue, but the second need is the defense/rebounder wing player, the glue guy. A big part of the intent in this desire is to find someone who is a solid enough starter at SF, allowing Al Thornton to perhaps come off the bench, making him more of a pure scorer and compensating for his passing, handling, rebounding and defensive deficiencies.
The prototypes, as discussed, are Shane Battier, Tayshaun Prince, and newbie flavor-of-the-offseason Trevor Ariza. They're defense-oriented versatile SFs who you could make a good case for as starters ahead of AT. The longer list is out there somewhere. At first glance Odom doesn't seem to be one of these guys, because he was coming off the bench himself last year, and he has been playing PF almost exclusively for a number of years now. But that's a bit deceptive, based on the Lakers particular situation.
The fact is that LO is a remarkably versatile player. He was able to adapt to the Lakers' needs, rather than the other way around.
And I'll cut into my comments to mention that in my view the Lakers are low-balling LO in a certain, only because of their tax status and the Bynum deal and others that they have to live with, but the part that's unseemly is the way that they're using their media-darling status to continue to force the issue and make it seem like LO isn't responding to a generous deal. It's virtually impossible for the Lakers to pay LO what he's worth. It's his bad luck that he's a UFA, with a shiny new ring no less, in a year when no one has money and the economic outlook for the league is very poor. But Turkoglu and Ben Gordon got big deals, and LO's agent knows that he's going to be leaving 10-20 million--a whole lot of money, with 1 or 2 million of it going to the agent--on the table if he signs a 3-year deal now, and has to go back to try to get his next deal when he's past his prime. The timing is worse when you look at last year's deals (Maggette, Baron Davis, just to name two close to home) and next year's deals, where a guy like Boozer doesn't opt out, to get paid now to join the much more high stakes 2010 musical chairs.
But back to LO and how he might fit on the Clippers. There's a question of whether Blake Griffin can play the 3, but there was never any question of whether LO could--the question was whether he could play the 4. It was Miami's needs and then the Lakers lack of a PF that has made him seem so clearly a PF. With the Clippers abundance of bigs (Kaman-Camby-Jordan) and the arrival of BGriffin, LO's potential role on the Clips would be what it used to be back in the day, when they had FElton locked in at SF and Olowocancer at the 5. He would be the starting SF. He would get some minutes at PF when Griffin goes to the bench, and he might take away some PF minutes of Camby.
LO's rebounding is outstanding for a player in this role, as is his ability to distribute. His defense would seem to be solid enough. Perhaps he's not a lockdown, perimeter wing defender, not a Battier or a Prince, but he can definitely get the job done.
Of course, you get into some major "it's the Clippers" issues, that might reach new heights in this case. How could LO leave the championship Lakers to go to the dysfunctional Clips? That's just how crazy he is! Who needs him--we've got Kobe! And Ron Artest! Etc. etc. Odom's reasons would be economic. It seems crazy for him to accept a 5 year deal at the MLE--the Ariza deal--rather than the Lakers seemingly generous, tax-burdened 3/27-30 deal, but the 5 or 7 million dollars is... a guaranteed 5-7 million dollars. And LO hasn't taken that deal yet. Does a 1-year MLE deal, playing for next year when there's more money out there? Why not try, then, to make a 1 yr/10 million deal with the Lakers? Would the Lakers do a sign-and-trade? Would they do one with the Clippers? Would LO take the deal that we discussed for Shawn Marion, using the trade exception? Was that better than the deal he could make with the teams he's talking to now? Do the Clippers want to use up future capspace on Odom? Would Griffin/Odom/Gordon fit in the way I'm imagining? Lots and lots of questions.
As far as the insane, improbable return, It's worth remembering that MDSr was not the coach when LO left the Clips. Miami made a last second, very pricey offer to LO, and the Clips chose not to match what seemed to be an inflated deal. Matching FElton came first, and matching on the Maggs deal was much easier. And the Clips were just taking their first baby steps towards financial respectability at that stage. The Clips have changed, and they're on the rise, with Griffin. It's really unfortunate that BDavis was so horrible last year, negating his ability to get involved in attracting talented players to the team.
Believe me, I know that these are even more extreme zhivings than the norm, and the argument leaks from dozens of holes. But a simple version of it is this: who would you rather have the Clips sign: Lamar Odom or Allen Iverson. The obvious, easy answer is neither, of course.
And then there's the idea of making a healthy offer to Odom just to mess with the Lakers. At least an amusing thought.